The Hazards of Love (1, 2, 3 & 4)

I almost feel bad putting these Hazards of Love songs up with no context. The Hazards of Love┬áis an unapologetic concept album, and having four title tracks is but one of its┬áidiosyncrasies. Obviously, dragging certain songs apart from all the others is a problem when the entire record is a narrative. You lose the narrative that way. Not that these songs can’t be enjoyed on their own merits. They most certainly can. But it’s more fun when you’re into the story. Also, they’re supposed to segue from one to the next and separating them makes for some raw endings. But all those are small quibbles. You don’t need to delve into the mythology of the whole album to appreciate The Decemberists’ achievements. They’ve made four songs with the same title, each one is different, but they hang together even with the chapters in between them missing. Plus, there’s a choir of vengeful ghost children.