Life In Exile walks a fine line between emulating the
early eighties synth bands and falling into the darker depths
of industrial. For me it is the dark side that appeals more as
I almost equate this band to an evolved Joy Division, who
walked that line beautifully. This band has made definite use
of the technology jump since then, using more refined sound choices
that emphasize the songs excellently.
The production is the true key to this album, and really in many
ways it overshadows the songwriting. Using delicate backing sounds
and rhythms the production nails the scope of the record, varying
from hard-ish to more New Order-ish - who I equate to just
plain wussy. "Ayn Rand" is just a bland song with a
halfway striking chorus, but the addition of the multiple layers
of sound and subtleties of production it actually works.
The material is the biggest detractor, appearing flaccid and
unimaginative. Guitar parts are weak, limiting their impact to
mere single chord strikes in heavy distortion with little to no
movement. If you rely on the synthetic to drive the song then
you have to give yourself over to it, some bands can manage that,
this one can't.
My advice would be to choose a direction and go full bore that
way. My favorite moment on the album was during "What I Am"
as some truly interesting Al Jourgenson-esque vocals appeared
and took control of the song. Or, you could go the other direction
and pander to the lighter side, your choice. One thing for certain
is that it doesn't work as it lies right now.
It is a credit to the producers that they got this album palatable,
but ultimately it takes the material to get it past that, so it
doesn't become, forgettable.
1) Lonely Heaven
2) What I Am
4) Ayn Rand
5) Lift Off
6) It's Alright
7) Mirror in the Bathroom
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