Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick thoughts on a couple of albums

I'd always been more of a casual fan of The Decemberists. I liked the music but never got excited enough to really pay attention to them. I think Colin Meloy's vocals aren't the easiest thing to absorb. Nonetheless, I'd collected a few of their albums.

So when The Hazards of Love was released, I didn't notice. I heard a few positive reviews and was willing to check them out until a friend gave it a thumbs down. Months later, I casually click on a track on an online music site, Lala. I gotta say, I immediately fell in love with the album.

The story goes that Meloy wanted to create a rock opera. And that he did. Parallels to Pink Floyd's The Wall are inevitable. Both tell stories utilizing various characters and musical themes. Meloy one-ups Pink Floyd by bringing in other singers to help create more distinct characterizations. I especially like the lower timbre of Shara Worden, from My Brightest Diamond, for the Queen.

In "The Wanting Comes the Waves/Repaid", she sings "And so..." with such a looming, low voice that I get chills every time I hear it.

There's a nice, in-depth interpretation of the album's opera story for anyone interested.

The album's been getting some mixed reviews, and I can assuredly predict that several of my friends won't be as impressed as I am. Maybe I have a soft spot for the epic, theatrical romance.

It's not like The Decemberists are inventing anything new here. But in the day of YouTube and shuffling playlists, it's refreshing to hear a band that is attempting a cohesive, long-form musical experience rather than a hit single.


The Dodos have released a new album and I caught it much quicker than The Decemberists. The Dodos' latest, Time to Die, is yet to be released on CD but is widely available digitally.

Much of it will be familiar to existing fans, but I was definitely surprised by some of the sounds on the album. I need to spend more time with it, but I sense more of a vibrant, energetic approach.

I keep reading that "this isn't Visiter" which is universally accepted as a great album. I agree it's not. There are fewer standouts on Time to Die, but it's got enough nice elements to make it worth the time to hear.

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