Known for their uniquely brooding sound that frequently conjures desolate imagery, on Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon Murder By Death capture a familiar tone but also explore new territory, adding a further refined sophistication and even richer, full-bodied sound. The varied album ranges musically from the spooky and spare opener “My Hill”, to the rough, rousing sing-along “Hard World”, to the booming, aching waltz of “Ghost Fields.” Songs like the cinematic “Lost River” start hushed before rising to a lush crescendo, while “No Oath, No Spell” maintains a dramatic, bluesy swing, and first single “I Came Around” rumbles and rollicks with a hard-charging, barroom flair. Singer Adam Turla’s cavernous baritone tells shadowy small-town stories throughout, the songs’ oftentimes-upbeat veneer belying a sordid undercurrent.
Across Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon Sarah Balliet’s sonorous cello and Scott Brackett’s multiple instruments (backing vocals, piano, trumpet, and accordion, to name a few) weave irreplaceable accents, and Dagan Thogerson’s robust drums and Matt Armstrong’s inventive bass lines create a resounding low end.
Murder By Death wrote Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon – their first album featuring contributions from Brackett (formerly of Okkervil River and Shearwater)– throughout most of 2011, testing and reworking the songs in Turla’s basement-turned-practice-space. In January, they traveled to Dallas, TX to record with producer John Congleton (Explosions In The Sky, St. Vincent, Black Mountain) over three weeks.