By Brock ThiessenThe Decemberists have finally ironed out all the details of their forthcoming new album, The Hazards of Love. The record, which the band have now confirmed is "in the can," will drop March 24 here in North America via Capitol and come sporting 17 tracks, a pile of guest stars and perhaps will be the group's first full-on "rock opera."
According to a Rolling Stone report in November, the record is "a twisty, fantastical story about a woman named Margaret who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal; her lover, William, who is desperate for the two of them to be reunited; a forest queen; and a villainous rake."
This ambitious storyline has led Decemberists front-man Colin Meloy to say: "Everyone's going to call it a rock opera," adding to Rolling Stone that he's "just got to come around to that."
Under the direction of producer Tucker Martine, the band have also lined up quite a few guests to help deliver their musical tale, including My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden and Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond, who will reportedly be singing the parts of specific characters on the album, as well as My Morning Jacket front-man Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock and Rebecca Gates of the Spinanes.
In other Decemberists news, the third and final volume of their single series, Always the Bridesmaid, recently hit the shops, boasting the tracks "Record Year for Rainfall" and "Raincoat Song" - two songs the band say are "particularly suited for this weather we're having," which we assume means wet and cold.
At this time, the Decemberists have no tour dates scheduled but they do have a tracklisting available for The Hazards of Love. Here it is:
1. "Prelude" 2. "The Hazards of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won't Wrestle the Thistles Undone)" 3. "A Bower Scene" 4. "Won't Want for Love (Margaret in the Taiga)" 5. "The Hazards of Love 2 (Wager All)" 6. "The Queen's Approach" 7. "Isn't it a Lovely Night?" 8. "The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid" 9. "An Interlude" 10. "The Rake's Song" 11. "The Abduction of Margaret" 12. "The Queen's Rebuke / The Crossing" 13. "Annan Water" 14. "Margaret in Captivity" 15. The Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!)" 16. The Wanting Comes in Waves (Reprise)" 17. The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)"