The Builders and the Butchers - Dead Reckoning (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Builders and the Butchers

Dead Reckoning (2011)


The fourth full-length in four years from the Builders and the Butchers doesn't necessarily seem to deviate far from the band's formula of bold, brash, barn-burning folk rock. But if you've liked what you've heard so far, Dead Reckoning will be up your alley (just don't expect any actual salutes to Small Brown Bike).

Similarities to fellow Portlandians the Decemberists feel a little more vague this time around. It's taking a couple albums, but the band's starting to find their own voice. Kinda. Vocalist/guitarist/percussionist Ryan Sollee still sings with an upper-register quaver ("Lullaby"). And the band still use space smartly when the song calls for it ("Moon Is on the March"). Besides, later-era Murder by Death occasionally feels like an apt RIYL.

Opener "I Broke the Vein" starts with an achy, stripped-down vocal-and-quiet-guitar combo before the entire band comes bustling in for a buildup with yelped melodies that stretches to nearly the six-minute mark, making for the second-longest song on Dead Reckoning. Like this track, song titles sometimes provide the hook, but both the Builders and Butchers apply them infectiously, so it's acceptable. "Rotten to the Core", "Black Elevator" and the interlude-ish "Blood for You" are also guilty, but again, when you're snarling along with the band it probably won't matter much.

More tender, weary cuts like "All Away" (a bit reminiscent of the Decemberists' "Eli, The Barrow Boy") and the twangy "Out of the Mountain" offer an alternative to the near-celebratory (but still tense) vibe the band convey most other times.

It doesn't feel like the Builders and the Butchers have completely broke free of the pigeonholing shackles with Dead Reckoning, but it's an undeniably solid effort to do so. And on its own, a pretty good album all the same.

Dead Reckoning