I think the first song that I ever heard by The Decemberists was Here I Dreamt I Was An Architect:
And here I dreamt I was a soldier
And I marched the streets of Birkenau
And I recall in spring
The perfume that the air would bring
To the indolent town.
I was hooked. I sought out the back catalogue of the hyperliterary band and found nary a dud. When they opened their last album, The Crane Wife, with the strumming of a bouzouki (my instrument of choice), they won me over completely.
Their latest album is The Hazards Of Love. A Decemberists album usually consists of a series of perfectly crafted pop songs but The Hazards Of Love is more like one extended narrative, to be listened to from start to finish. No, it’s not a rock opera or a concept album necessarily, but it does have an unashamedly prog rock feel to it.
As if it weren’t ambitious enough to record a whole folk-prog opus, they proceeded to play the entire saga live at this year’s South By Southwest. Fortunately NPR were on hand to record the event. You can listen to the whole concert.