Exitmusic - Passage
When Justin Vernon emerged from a remote cabin in the Wisconsin woods with a bunch of songs of heartbreak and loss, he brought with him a back story that proved to be Bon Iver's most effective marketing tool. His debut album went on to be a massive success, due in no small part to the romance surrounding that tale of how the album was conceived. Brooklyn duo Exitmusic have quite the story of their own. Teenagers Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church met on a train backpacking across Canada. They went their separate ways but continued to keep in touch by letter. Eventually Church moved to Brooklyn, they lived together and subsequently got married. They formed Exitmusic and now here we are with their second full length album Passage. Those expecting some cutesy album of loved-up pop songs are in for a surprise. Passage is a dark, turbulent slice of indie pop that sometimes explores some very troubled sounding places. It is often blindingly good, but occasionally it can sound a little emotionally over-wrought, like early Bright Eyes complete with the quivering vocal effect.
As opening tracks go, Passage is almost shockingly great –this is the kind of song that normally brings a live set to a close. Maximum impact is achieved, with singer Palladino going into emotional meltdown midway through the track following a subdued piano based intro. Sigur Ros, Radiohead and Bright Eyes are obvious reference points –sinister electronic undercurrents give all these songs a vaguely menacing feel, with great cloudbursts of guitar white noise and Palladinos striking voice creating an impressive sonic maelstrom. There are many highlights - the malevolent 'Stars' and the wonderful 'The Modern Age' see Exitmusic take some of those obvious influences and twist them into dark shapes of their own.
Passage is an impressively conceived and at times brutally brilliant collection of songs. It sometimes verges on toppling into full blown emotional hysteria, but when it is good, it is very good indeed. Well worth checking out.
Review by Paul Page
Review by entertainment.ie | 11:27 | Friday 29th June 2012 | Album Review
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