Are the Decemberists too literary, too melodramatic, too grandiloquent, too anachronistic for their own good, as their detractors suggest? That depends on what "too" means. Certainly, Colin Meloy and his Portland, Oregon, art-rock outfit have carved out a fairly unique and polarizing career with their vivid, dictionarynecessitating tales of old-timey chimney sweeps and seafarers and bewitching crane women, set to a bittersweet symphony of mandolin, tuba, guitar and accordion. Sure, the 25-cent words and red-velvet-curtain theatrics come out early and often, but the band is also quite charming, melodically captivating and sonically fulfilling, particularly live. Clearly, Meloy won't let any criticism change his ways: The Decemberists' new album, The Hazards of Love, is a colorful, bizarre fable involving a woman, her shape-shifting animal lover, a mythical forest queen, and a rapscallion called "the Rake." Musically, Hazards finds the Decemberists taking stabs at quasi-metal and prog-rock, alongside their usual fop-pop.