Monday, June 18, 2012
REVIEW: ExLovers - Moth
When a stunningly good album is released, one that you want to play over and over and tell your friends about, the temptation is to assume that it all came somewhat easily to the five young folks who can proudly call it their own. But in the case of London's ExLovers, there was a lot of hard work behind this dazzling debut. In their early days even the stereotypical broken-down tour van was a bridge too far -- Exlovers traveled to early gigs via public transportation (how many seats does one purchase for a drum kit, anyway?). But this review has nothing to do with sympathy or extra points for hard work; this review is earned by releasing a collection of songs that should demand the attention of any guitar pop fan.
Moth opens proceedings with the bright melodies of "Starlight, Starlight". If this is your first exposure to Exlovers, you could be forgiven thinking that they were pulling in the listeners by leading with their best track. If so, you'd likely reassess quickly when confronted with the second track, "This Love Will Lead You On", which is the first single --
"Emily", which will be released as a single in July, is third, and is a wonderful piece of melancholy. If you are like me, at this point you are thinking that Exlovers has a great mastery of the guitar pop genre, and Moth will be a very creditable first album if they can bring it home without losing too much steam.
And then, if you like what I like, Exlovers hits you with their best one-two punch. Here is the wonderful jangle of "Just A Silhouette" --
The second punch is track five, "Blowing Kisses", and is my current favorite song on the album. It also was my introduction to the band in early 2011 --
As the remainder of the album unspools, the band demonstrates equal comfort with slower, sadder songs, but never loses their sense for melody.
Moth is the work of Pete, Chris, Brooke, Laurel and Danny. Their guitars ring, jangle, chime and crunch as needed. The rhythm section is superb (one of my fellow WYMA contributors, on first hearing blowing kisses, said something like "man, what a drummer"). And the male/female vocals, alternating and harmonizing, contribute a texture that many other bands can only envy.
When describing Moth to a friend, he asked me to compare it to the debut from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart because he knows that I'm very fond of that band. My response was that I think Exlovers paints on a broader indie canvass than TPOBPAH. But more than that, I think Moth quite simply is a better album than the Brooklyn noise poppers debut. It is that good.
Moth is released on London's Young and Lost Club label. You may recall that the debut from Being There was released by the same label earlier in the month. Make a note of them--Sara and Nadia are tastemakers and curators of fine new music.
A live version of the album's closing track, "Moth-Eaten Memories" --
Young and Lost Club