I had a chance last night to check out a sneak preview of Here Come The Waves, an hour-long animated film made to accompany their 2009 album The Hazards of Love. I adore this album so I was intrigued to see accompanying visuals, especially on the big screen at my favorite movie theatre (The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square). At first, I was kind of hoping for a narrative - Hazards is one of those albums where you feel like you know what's going on, but it's really more a series of interconnected vignettes than a coherent story - but the trailer dashed the idea that Waves would shed any light on Hazards' plot.
Instead, Waves gave us a series of moody, psychedelic images that augmented the emotional feel of Hazards rather than the literal content. There were four different animators. Peter Sluzska takes the viewer through a world of nature, woods full of trees and flowers that sometimes are static and sometimes are smashing together or falling apart or ejaculating color in the fierce "Won't Want For Love." Julia Pott then takes over - her quirky, cartoonish drawings don't quite fit with the other artists but were probably my favorite, full of dancing bears, animated constellations, and appropriately enough, a ship buffeted by waves in "The Wanting Comes in Waves / Repaid." She often takes the viewer into items, showing dancing subatomic particles or fantastical elements. For "The Rake's Song," Hazards' creepiest moment, we get the disturbing animation of Guilherme Marcondes, who treats us to skeletons and skeletal branches rushing past a blood red circle. While Pott's view dove into items, Marcondes prefers to have the imagery rushing past a mostly static image, creating the impression of an animated painting rather than animation. Finally, Santa Maria begins the album's final quarter with beams of brilliant light and rapid-fire antique store knick-knacks before easing into subdued night sky scenes for the album's poignant closer, "The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)."
What's the verdict? If you love Hazards of Love, get a copy of this and throw a party for your other Decemberists-loving friends (or those receptive) - it'll be a fun way to spend an hour and five bucks. If you don't have Hazards, this is a good introduction, but I'd probably just go ahead and pick up the album. And if, by some bizarre quirk of fate, you're lukewarm or miraculously don't like the album, you'll want to skip Here Come the Waves. It's not going to shed any light on exactly who Margaret or The Rake or the Queen are or what they're doing, but it will give you some beautiful, quirky images to go with The Decemberists' beautiful, quirky songs.
The Decemberists Site
Here Come The Waves Trailer
Buy The Hazards of Love at Amazon