Murder By Death
COOKING VINYL Re-released 4.6.07

My second Murder By Death album and I’m approaching it back to front. This was the bands first offering and it’s a lot less lyrically focused than their more recent outpourings. Not that the lyrics are not decent enough, but it’s the music on Like the Exorcist But More Breakdancing that really lures you in. There are even a pair of instrumental tracks, two evil twins that would scare the life out of any unfortunate parent. ‘Those Who Left’ and ‘Those Who Stayed’ do nigh impossible things with guitars and bass. Drums throb. There are atmospheric twists and turns: spry majesty into a dreadful downward spiral; melodious piano and shout-outs into resonant silence. Left me with a shiver down my earlobes.

The rest of the album fairs fairly well beside these two sonic assaults, but it’s hard not to notice when they fail to blow up in your face. When Murder By Death relax here, they start to feel a touch lazy. ‘A Caucus Race’ and ‘Joe Bou’ in particular are not easy to find anything much to say about. High point has to be ‘You Are the Last Dragon’, with its lethal piano-versus-guitar intro. Distorted guitars grab you by the neck and screech until you stop fighting them. There are occasional dreary moments, but on the whole, this is a competent indie opera.

I wouldn’t recommend it over and above later of the band’s releases, but I wouldn’t advise against it either. It’s affecting moments more than make up for what it’s lacking.

Hannah Thompson