The Exquisites - Home (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Exquisites

Home (2016)

Asian Man Records

The Exquisites latest release, Home, finds them continuing down the same road they began on their debut; featuring rough around the edges punk that also knows how to slow things down and the hoarse but soulful vocals of Jason Clackley. This album finds the band a bit more comfortable with its sound than before, and Clackley opening up a bit more about his past than on the previous release.

This album finds Clackley’s lyrics being both reflective and featuring a sense of determination to move forward. Lyrics like this, for me personally, is the best way for a singer to write lyrics of that nature because it shows where they’ve been but also how they’ve grown and changed because of it. While there is certainly something to be said for albums that can absolutely devastate you emotionally or get you so pumped up on positivity you feel like you can take on the world, those albums are defaults for certain moods. The relatability of a lyricist/vocalist dealing with life as a whole, and doing so in a relatable manner, is one of the harder things for a songwriter to accomplish.

The album features both pounding loud songs, like opener “Faith,” and also quieter more withdrawn moments such as “Climbing Down at the End of the Day” which utilizes horns and creates a wonderfully textured sound for Clackley’s vocals. The utilization of fast and loud mixed with softer and sparser tracks gives an album’s overall sound more power. Those variations in sound, texture, and speed show a band that has not only come into their own on this album but have developed enough confidence in their voice that they’ve begun varying how they are going to use it.

While music is filled with tales of the dreaded sophomore slump, The Exquisites don’t fall victim to it here. While there will likely be some longtime fans who fault the band for expanding their sound, those fans are wrong. This band grew the strength and power of their musical voice by taking the steps they have here. Nothing that was done comes off like an attempt to simply sell a record or gain a mainstream fanbase. But, rather, tell the story they needed to on each track in the best way possible.

The only major downside to this album is nothing pops out and says notice me. Every song on here is a solid song and the band put out a strong album. But, even upon repeat listens, I never found myself wanting to return to one track over any of the others. I’m more than willing to boil this down to personal taste, and I‘ll take a solid album over three singles and ten filler tracks any day. But, while the whole album is an enjoyable listen it lacks those one or two tracks that make them end on playlists outside of the album.