We're big fans of Moonlight Bride here at Given and Taken in Ink. The Chattanooga rockers released an impressive noise-pop EP earlier this year (Twin Lakes), followed it up with a remix album, and now have dropped something entirely different. Dead Language is a pretty, mostly acoustic collection of songs that is wholly unlike any of the band's previous work, and it just might be their best yet.
When asked why Moonlight Bride chose to go in this new direction, lead singer Justin Giles explained, "I feel like good stripped down songwriting is becoming a lost art. Our generation is obsessed with the flash and flare of some pawn dancing around and pressing a couple of buttons and calling it electronic or dub-step. Dead Language is anti that."
What's so surprising is that, despite fitting together so well, these songs were not written as a singular project. According to Giles: "We've had the idea of doing this sort of b-side compilation for awhile now. It's a group of songs we recorded and always liked but just didn't seem to fit with the material that we’ve been putting together for the new album."
There's an elegiac quality to Dead Language. Piano-ballad "Open Waters" kicks things off on a mournful note; the relationship in the song is dead, with Giles giving it a burial at sea: "Darlin why'd you have to leave so soon? The open waters lie in wait for you." "Wild Heart" is brighter, with gentle "ooohs" backing acoustic guitar. Moonlight Bride reprises "Diego," a song that first appeared on the band's Twin Lakes EP, with a slower pace and a haunted vocal delivery. The original was one of my favorite songs of 2012, and while this version completely reinvents the mood, it's interesting to hear the band interpret the same song in a very different way.
"It Could Happen" shares similarities to Moonlight Bride's debut full-length, Myths, particularly one of the standout tracks, "Marlon." Both songs feature a dominant beat to build tension, marching toward the eventual cathartic release. But clocking in at only 2:20, "It Could Happen" gets there much quicker. And much like the band closed Myths with an instrumental track following "Marlon," Dead Language settles down with an instrumental closer in "Silver Slumbers."
Moonlight Bride would have had an impressive year with Twin Lakes alone, but Dead Language shows off the band's versatility and elevates expectations for the full-length due in late 2013. It'll be a long time until then, but if this is any indication, it will be worth the wait.
Dead Language releases digitally on December 4 via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and Rhapsody.