Album Reviews: The Decemberists & Wavves


The Decemberists – The Hazards Of Love

For the last four or so years, Portland’s The Decemberists have been one of my very favorite bands. I loved Her Majesty and The Crane Wife, and Picaresque will always be in my top albums of all time. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked to hear that The Decemberists were releasing another album. I got my hands on the promo copy of The Hazards of Love (Capitol) last week, and couldn’t wait to listen. It wasn’t quite what I expected.

When “The Rake’s Song” was released as a single in January, I was in love. I thought it meant that The Hazards of Love would be moving back to the darker Picaresque side of things. Sadly, it turned out to be like one of those movie previews that puts all of its best parts in the trailer, causing the full length to be a bit disappointing. This is not to say that Hazards is a bad album, it still carries the same fantasy sea-shantyesque storylines that we all know and love. Something just seems to fall short, leaving the album in a sad state of mediocrity.

The album is one continuous story (originally intended as a musical). The story is about a villager, Margaret, who is “ravaged” by a shape-shifting animal (in the form of a deer), and falls in love with William, who lives in a nearby magical forest. There is also the forest queen, and a vicious, cold-blooded rake.

There are some songs on the album that I do really like. As previously mentioned, “The Rake’s Song” is very strong, and “Isn’t It a Lovely Night,” a sweet little sixties-esque duet, shines a ray of light on an otherwise very dark album.

The Decemberists will be playing at Sasquatch on Saturday, May 23rd.


Wavves – Wavvves

San Diego garage-pop band Wavves has gotten a lot of local hype lately. Upon first listen, I gather that their biggest Northwest fanbase will be those looking to chase away the blues of our long (long long long) winters with a little sunny California fun. Since the rain makes it difficult to hit the beach very often, the lo-fi, upbeat sound of Wavves’ almost-self-titled release, Wavvves (Fat Possum) definitely does the job.

The album is a really fun mix of garage rock and poppy electronica sounds, all with a distinctive Southern California feel. “Sun Opens My Eyes” has a bit more of a tribal flair. Most, like “Beach Demon,” have a tinge of stoner rock thrown into their overall sound.

The second half of the album was definitely my overall favorite. The “Goths” series of songs definitely stand out from the rest, and “Killr Punx, Scary Demons” is a trippy dive into a sea of beautiful noise. This band has a lot of potential, and I would imagine that they put on a killer show. I would definitely recommend Wavvves, especially if you’re looking for a little taste of summer.

Wavves will be performing live at KEXP on Thursday, April 9, at 12PM, and then playing at The Funhouse that night with Vampire Hands, The Cold Cold Ground, and Broken Knives.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I gotta disagree on Decemberists. I hated Rake Song on its own. But, once I heard it in context, it was a whole new attitude. This one’s a epic and a winner, in my book. Easily one of the strongest releases of the year — and in the Decemberists’ catalog.

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