Exit Calm - Exit Calm
The signature sounds of the shoegazers are all there - Nicky Smith's strong vocal performance is often given the wistful treatment to make it alternate between powerful and soothing. The guitars are dripping with sound effects which ebb and flow across the music and occasionally grow in a crescendo. Yep, this is shoegaze alright, and a deliberate attempt to recreate the sound in a way in which Alcest and Have a Nice Life did not set out to do.
But there are going to be inevitable problems with resurrecting the dead, apart from getting your brains eaten, that is. Musically you are going to be seen as derivative and you are going to find it hard to shake off that label. Most shoegaze revivalists get compared with My Bloody Valentine but for me, Exit Calm draw their inspiration more from the Verve. At times, were it not for the fact that Smith does not have the same lazy arrogance to his voice as Richard Ashcroft, I could swear I was listening to A Storm in Heaven era Verve.
The band's objective though is clear. They set out to swamp you with sound. From the opening chords of "You've Got It All Wrong" you are overwhelmed by this dense sound, enveloping you, smothering you. So much so that at times it is hard to actually listen to the music. Before long you begin to hear other influences. That nagging feeling that you have heard Nicky Smith's voice somewhere before becomes a fixation and you listen intently, desperately trying to exclude other sounds until you have identified the voice. And then it strikes you! I am sure it is not intentional, but there is more than a passing resemblance to a younger Bono, you remember him - the good singer with that Irish band before he turned into a sanctimonious twat.
One thing is true enough, you certainly get your money's worth. The album lasts an hour and none of the songs clocks in at less than five minutes while a couple run in at just under seven. Now that is not a bad thing in itself. For instance, the album's best track, "Don't Look Down", is a slow burning fuse which Smith controls with his voice and manages to hold you in suspense. This one is a future stadium rock anthem, should the band ever get that far. But the album bows out with some decidedly weaker numbers. "Recovery" and "Serenity" are much more laid back from the dream pop end of shoegaze. It is as if the band had taken you, with their first nine songs, on a long trip, and now, exhausted, you and they, it is time to rest and wind down. The ride is over. Take it easy.
However, the more you listen to this album you more you realize that, underneath everything, there really is nothing there to write home about. It is a difficult listen for sure, but that is deliberate on the band's part. The attempt to overwhelm you with sound seems, in the end, to be a simple cover for the fact that that there are no memorable hooks, no great lyrics which hang in your head and really nothing much to hang your memories of the album on. I can imagine listening to this on occasions, at night, lights out, volume up, when I want to be smothered in music without having to pay attention to it. But apart from those few occasions, I cannot see this getting much play.
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on 2011-06-07 CharlesMartel Said:
Just too derivative for my tastes to get much play. Could have been so much better.