Self Released on 2nd July 2013
So here we are slap bang in the middle of 2013 and I am pleased to share with you the release of the sophomore effort from the electronic-rock outfit Exchange.
And let’s say from the outset that the opener “Skyline” is a damn fine way to start off an album. It presents a harder edge, a distinctive sound – interlocking synth riffs, motorik rhythms, and dense guitar chords interact with Mike Powell’s languorous vocal stylings to create a fresh sound for the band. They have definitely moved on from the first album “Systems”. That’s not to say that they have lost the core sound – and i’ve said before the influences on the duo are plain to hear in their music. This time around though the attention to melodic layering demonstrates an evolution in the writing. I think it’s also important to listen to this on it’s own merits and understand the results rather than the complex cocktail of styles they have distilled into their own sound.
The previously released EP “Sunday” is up next and is an exemplar of the best of electro-rock and perhaps provides more of a bridge back to the first album. Again there are strong melodies, hypnotic bass lines, and insistent synth riffing. Third track “Glorious”, like the opener, demonstrates that the pair have moved into new areas compositionally. More pop oriented than some of their other material there is some complex and clever arrangement going on here, and the ability of the band to break down the track into a quieter section before moving back into the main chorus, and then into an extended coda with a plaintive guitar riff, shows that they know what they are about.
The longest song on the album is the epic “Second Chance” which manages to combine Krautrock and the sound of 80s Madchester into a delightful confection – the impressive “Never Say Never” takes things on a step or two with a mesmerising collage of funky electro, chirpy synth interventions and a dance rhythm to die for. Similarly the impressive “Captive” builds on a strong rhythm with that signature Jed Stephens lead bass sound but also folds in a range of other layers. “Come Home Now” bridges pop and electro and takes the band in another direction entirely. The closing “Guilty” is, simply put, beautiful, managing to be restrained but also holding an epic quality at it’s core.
On balance I prefer the hard edged dance oriented elements of their work over the poppier side, but overall this is a good second album with some marked progression in Jed and Mike’s music. Nice of them to use one of my photos for the back cover as well!
The band will be releasing the album via their website at www.exchangeband.co.uk/ and are playing at the Kings Arms, Salford on 16th August alongside Positronik and Factory Acts where you will be able to purchase a copy of the album for a mere £5.