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Album Reviews

Reviews of albums by Efterklang, Michael Jackson, and Murder by Death

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While Efterklang's stunning 2010 album, Magic Chairs, burst out of the gate with the epic and propulsive "Modern Drift" and then segued into a more reserved sound for the remainder of the album, Piramida sets its dreary tone early on. This new disc never attempts the sublime sweep of "Modern Drift," settling instead for a consistent wintry blandness that's beautiful and gentle and occasionally moving, but ultimately deeply uninteresting. – Jason Ferguson

Michael Jackson
Bad 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
(Sony Legacy)
Producing a then-record-setting (until Katy Perry jiggled her way into a tie) five No. 1 singles and about the same amount of filler, none of which time has allowed anyone to forget, Bad will forever exist in the collective jukebox, and this 25th anniversary treatment does little to enhance its standing. Remasters bury M.J.'s vocals to further bring out distracting slap-bass lines and lost b-sides underwhelm. (One, an anti-abortion screed, is downright appalling, though liner notes suggest Jackson tried hard to avoid the appearance of slut-shaming.) The real jewel of this box: The complete Live at Wembley 1988 concert – the apex of the late singer's onstage ferocity. – Justin Strout

Murder by Death
Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
(Bloodshot Records)
This Indiana roots-noir quintet is at the height of its power here. Credit producer John Congleton (Wye Oak, St. Vincent) for expertly balancing ballast and color. Frontman Adam Turla's booming baritone, Sarah Balliet's cello and Dagan Thogerson's jazzy but powerful drumming key a bottom-end occupation that consigns the guitars and keyboard to the background. Their earthy rumble amplifies the darkness in Turla's oft-ominous songs. A religious studies major, he likes big concepts, and his ability to wrap deep thoughts around clever narrative is in full effect, while the rich background tapestry offers dimension to match the lyrical scope. It's the shadowy tour-de-force they've long threatened. – Chris Parker

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