The Revivalists have dropped a surprise release for their new live studio EP, Made In Muscle Shoals. The surprise drop includes a brand new song, “The Bitter End,” along with an accompanying documentary recorded and filmed at the legendary FAME Recording Studio.
Coming 12 years after the band’s inaugural release, their self-titled EP, the six-song Made In Muscle Shoals features a brand new song, “The Bitter End,” as well as reimaginings of “Oh No,” “You & I,” “Change” and “All My Friends” from 2018’s Take Good Care, a piano-and-vocal version of the platinum-selling “Wish I Knew You” from 2015’s Men Amongst Mountains and a cover of The Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody.”
“The Bitter End” is one of the most upbeat breakup jams I can remember. One of my favorite elements of so many of The Revivalists’ songs, the single thing with which I most empathize, is a storytelling perspective best categorized as wizened nostalgia. The lasting image of this song is that of a sad, knowing smile of acceptance.
Each verse is crushing and relatable, betraying the embarrassing vulnerability of the desperate yearning that comes when someone is wholly gone. There’s a wearied stubbornness in each verse, and lead vocalists David Shaw’s delivery is perfect. His tone carries an unbearable weight, yet there’s comfort in seeing his practiced, lived in delivery. He, we, have been through this. We know it’s the hard part, but also what’s coming.
The beaten, pathetic tone makes the bridge and subsequent saxophone solo so effective. It’s a breaking dam, that moment where sad desperation turns to indignation, to acknowledging a partner’s flaws and real or imagined cruelties and apathies. Accurate or not, it’s justified, and it’s the first step towards moving on.
The final chorus strikes like a dagger, signifying the awareness that everything will eventually end, and having the strength to move on is what matters most. “But even the Midas touch is gonna turn to rust in the bitter end, baby.”
Truly, nothing gold can stay, Ponyboy.
The documentary provides an insightful look at a band that’s been together for a decade and is still looking to grow and evolve. Their obvious reverence for FAME and the artists who recorded before and inspired them comes through both in talking head interviews and their continued attempts to infuse newness, whether into new material or covers of theirs and other works.
More information about the album and documentary, as well as streaming options for both, are available here.