Some very early impressions (ot hopefully added/elaborated on soon).
The Decemberists - Hazards of Love
Well, even given the transcode and a big LACK OF HEARING THE SEGUES LIKE THEY ARE INTENDED TO BE HEARD (with annoying gaps)..I'm still already highly impressed by this. It's like they took what they were doing on THE CRANE WIFE and blew it up into a full-on Concept album or Rock Opera. A handful of tunes or *movements* are sung by female vocalists to voice characters..1 being "Margaret" I guess. SO the biggest thing is taking this whole thing in as a large work, rather than individual songs really. Seems like it's gonna be 1 that'll be the ole greater-than-the-sum-of-it's-parts.
Man 1 piece had a total Deep Purple section..and the theme in "The Wanting Comes in Waves" (and maybe even moreso, the REPRISE for it) almost sounds like something The Dear Hunter would write.
It's 17 tracks and may seem like a bit much to get through, but I'm just suspecting it'll be worth giving this thing some extensive time and see where it goes. It may not have any piece as great as "The Island," but still it very well could be their best work to date.
And it also could be their most accessible to any progressive rock fan.