For fifteen years already Murder By Death have been… wait for it… killing it. Built around Adam Turla’s vocals and Sarah Balliet’s cello, the band’s brand of gothic-tinged alt country has never been anything but impressive. For album number eight they seem to have decided to take things to the next level when it comes to arrangements, making it fair to say that “Big Dark Love” is their most ambitious album to date.
At the same time it’s also their most polished album to date and I’m not sure if scraping away that raw edge they had going on, was necessarily a good thing. An even bigger problem is the band’s seemingly constant need to resort to over the top dramatics and crescendos towards the end of a song. It’s as if they really want to push their point home to make sure the listener gets just how hard life is for the characters in the songs. Unfortunately it more often than not has the exact opposite effect. Like when the drums in opening track “I Shot An Arrow” keep building up with Turla repeating the song title over and over. Yeah dude, we got it the first time… you shot an arrow. Move on.
“Big Dark Love” is not a bad album… even Murder By Death’s least songs always have something going for them, but it does look like Murder By Death bit off a bit more than they can chew here and ultimately “Big Dark Love” collapses under the weight of its own ambitions.