Exitmusic is a New York City band consisting of Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church that combine to create stormy electronic pop. Using layers of sound, these two are big on emotive music, hoping to generate forms of sound that moves their listeners in some way. A few years back they released the From Silence EP, which dubbed Exitmusic as dark, enigmatic and swirling. Passage, their recent effort, looks to refine these hooks and build ups to something with a bit more control.
If you aren’t careful, the first song will swallow you whole in its drama. Pushing six minutes, “Passage” goes a lot of places, exploring big build ups to drastic cut offs in the waves of sound that crash over one another. The track starts out on a quieter note, until it begins to build to one of its first crescendos and you can start to see the unbridled power that is created when these two come together, giving all they’ve got. Everything comes together in a cathartic build, and then suddenly all falls away in an explosive burst of sound that seems like it would fit as perfect background music to a movie montage. It’s a beast of a song, but Extimusic tames it to a manageable one, teetering on the edge of out of control with cymbals crashing and vocals peaking.
As far as songs on Passage go, the first track is by far the most dramatic in nature, and thankfully. While it has its place, if every song was as pushing as the opener, this album would feel distant and maudlin. This tightrope walk between accessible and melodramatic is the very substance of this album. You have songs like “The Modern Age,” on which Palladino’s vocals are close and easy to listen to; they are powerful, yet subtle in their confidence. The build on this song is manageable, easing into and out of climaxes with the help of soft percussive elements and hooking guitars. On the other side of this spectrum, Exitmusic lose themselves a bit on album closer, “Sparks of Light.” This number drags on, the echoed vocals and dull instrumentation leaving me a little bored.
However, there are still a number of catchy, cathartic songs that live up to the delightfully broody name that these two have earned for themselves. Depending on your personal state of mind, these songs may coat you in layers of glorious ambivalence, or murky heaviness. See for yourself.