The New Decemberists Concept Album Starts Here

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John Waters's Loser Gift Basket (2006). Photo: Getty Images

The first of four title tracks off the Decemberists' forthcoming The Hazards of Love may not feature the thundering, seventies-style metal that you'll hear on other parts of the album when it comes out in about a month, but it does showcase the band's velvety folk tendencies and Colin Meloy’s ominous, puppet-show-narrator voice. It also helps establish the disc's loose narrative, which concerns a lady named Margaret, her dude William, a "rake," and a forest queen. So start thinking that through — you'll need the head start.