Album review by KevW
Actors' forays into the world of music are not often a success. Sure, famous names will inevitably sell records, but the actual product wouldn't make it past most labels' quality control were it not for the celebrity attached to it. Rarer still is the likelihood of any boundaries being pushed or genuine musical input or ingenuity from the face that fronts the campaign. Exitmusic however, are a little different. While she may have starred in several films, Aleska Palladino isn't exactly a hollywood A-lister, and the band she formed with husband Devon Church is anything but a vanity project or a major label cash-in. Exitmusic have made this music themselves, the way they want to and secured a contract to independent label Secretly Canadian in the exact same way as any other artist would: through the sounds they create.
Following self-released collection 'The Decline Of The West' in 2008, it was last year that the band really began to make headway, and as such their first label release, 'Passage', can be seen as a debut album of sorts. Palladino's quiveringly powerful voice is nothing short of spellbinding; passionate and chilling in equal measure. The nearest contemporary comparison would be to Beach House's Victoria Legrand. Exitmusic's sound would come under a similar dreampop umbrella and is equally as stirring. Opener 'Passage' gently builds layer upon layer of shimmering atmospherics before blossoming into a pained yet beautiful crescendo, those vocals sending shivers down the spine. It's a format they stick to for much of the album and as such the only criticism you could level at them is that more variety wouldn't go amiss.
It's a minor quibble though, and it's difficult to knock any track individually. 'The Night' is what would happen if Sigur Ros grew some balls, and they continue to delicately construct a substantial wall of sound throughout, a shuddering force that's destined to cause goosebumps. 'Storms' is indeed a tempestuous melee of beautiful noise, then just as you think the album has settled into a familiar routine on the sleepy 'The Wanting' and 'Stars', they go and drop the quaking musical megalith of 'The Modern Age', a towering tour-de-force of spine-tingling power and emotion that blows other bands' entire oeuvres out of the water in one fell swoop. The album is worth owning for that alone, but the sheer beauty of that voice and those shimmering sounds mean that this record rarely drops below the 'startlingly good' level. Exitmusic may not be headed for the top of the charts but in 'Passage' they've created a musical blockbuster that will surely stand the test of time.
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