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The Exit: Home For An IslandHome For An Island (2004)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: greg0rbgreg0rb
(others by this writer | submit your own)
People have bad-mouthed many a band for sounding like another band, yet sometimes when the band evolves to their own sound, they get bad-mouthed for changing. It’s quite hypocritical. Saves the Day comes to mind as an example immediately, because people always say “I liked them better when they were Lifetime rip offs.” Personally, I have liked all of their phases, but perhaps I could be guilty of this with The Exit.
The NYC trio’s first album, New Beat was almost anything but, giving a big nod to The Police, borrowing their recognizable reverb & echo enhanced guitar and grooving reggae-style basslines. But then there were other tracks that were more pop punk, something closer to the first Midtown album than The Police. I loved those songs on New Beat, they were just so damn catchy. I liked the Police style stuff too, it added something other pop punk bands weren’t and it kept the album from becoming repetitive. Now the band is growing up and growing out of their direct influences, and I sorta wish they’d go back.
The grooves are still aplenty, and I love the booming bass synced up with the bass drum, and it doesn’t seem as blatantly stolen from their 80’s icons. So that’s good I guess, but on the other hand, gone from the album are the “Scream and Shout” rocker-type songs of New Beat. There are barely any tunes I would consider upbeat, giving the album almost the opposite problem that they previously avoided by my mixing grooves with pop punk; what I mean is it’s ALL groove and not much rock. Sure, the band seems to have found their own sound, but I prefer the last album. Perhaps this is a necessary middle album between finding their sound and making that truly great album. But that’s not to say this current album is all bad.
“Don’t Push” lets any fan know immediately that things have changed, with it’s tribal feel from the tom-filled beat and shakers, with it’s standard booming bass now joined by a bassy synth line, and guitarist Ben singing rather than bassist Jeff. (I believe Jeff sung everything on New Beat.) “Tell Me All Again” has a bit of the rocking of the past, but is still a bit slow for the most part and the melody is not as catchy as songs like “Worthless” off the last disc. “Back to the Rebels” pays off where “Tell Me All Again” doesn’t, and while it is still very groove-oriented, the chorus picks up and has a catchy melody. It also happens to be another one sung by Ben. “Let’s Go to Haiti” is up to the speed of their last album (perhaps why Some put that as the mp3 sample on their site) and while it is a decent song, no one will be fooled by the lack of the band’s old pop hooks in it.
The pair “Darlin” and “So Leave Then” are the most Police sounding songs on the album, and two of the best. Especially the latter, with its reggae beat and bassline it begs you to sway along, and the soft vocals of Ben (the last of his three vocal appearances) are easy enough to sing along with the first time: “You say that / You’re leavin’/ So leave then / So leave then.” Plus it has a steel drum part, and while it is most likely faked on keyboards or sampled, is still awesome and works great with the song. The band makes one more surprise turn with “Soldier”, a ballad with simply acoustic guitar, vocals, and harmonica, but it is just o.k.
So congrats to the band for spreading their wings a bit, but please, we loved you for your great hooks and your ability to rock out as well as groove. I don’t think there is a need to fully regress, just find a way to get those elements back in a little more often. Home for an Island is still an enjoyable listen and must get a decent score for being a unique sound among today’s indie/punk crop.
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