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Album Fri May 02 2014
Archie Powell & the Exports are no stranger to the indie rock music game. As a matter of fact, their third studio album, Back in Black, was released just this past week. Featuring Powell on the album cover, sulking amidst a dark backdrop but asserting a powerful gaze at the camera, the image projects how the group has grown and honed in on their sound over their years of making music together.
The themes of the group's new album emerge with the very first song, aptly titled "Everything's Fucked." Powell screams and wails his way through the beginning of the song, distressed about the aspects of every day life within the very first verse. An angsty ballad, the song propels the album forth with a vengeance. This isn't their first album, Skip Work; while still amazing, the material featured on this record is more summery and jubilant, with a darker yet more accessible tone. The subjects are wrought with authenticity while focused within their angst and pain, and seemingly, I identify with the songs more closely than previous material.
"Tattoo on My Brain" lightens the mood a bit and ushers in Archie Powell & The Exports' signature sound. However, the production is tighter and more cultivated than previous work. "Lean" promotes the further angsty feel to their sound, which I definitely wasn't anticipating. However, I didn't hate it, I welcomed it. "Scary Dream" took a detour to the oldest Archie Powells & The Exports material, the beachy, sunshine sound that we are accustomed to, however it is still darker and more reminiscent of a vengeful tempo, akin to that of Arctic Monkeys or the Hives.
"Electrocute My Heart" emerges as my favorite tune on the album. "Electrocute my heart babe / Love can't save my soul," croons Powell, who sings with such an urgency that it is easy to believe whatever messages he is imparting to us listeners, more empowered with each lyric. His sardonic wit within the lyrics makes songs accessible and authentic. "Rodeo Crush" is an unanticipated twist, as it features mainly soft instrumental layering with hushed vocals. After the frenetic nature of the album, it is a welcomed cool-down and a deeper look into the intimate sound at the group's core. However, the album picks up again with punchy ballad "The High Road," which makes me want to stand in a crowded music venue and sing along at the top of my lungs forevermore. The album appropriately closes out with "Mambo No. 9," with Powell screaming in the backdrop of a dark and quick-paced instrumental backing.
The great news is, you can hear Archie Powell & The Exports' new album for yourself live, tonight at Subterranean, for the official album release show for Back in Black. They are no doubt about to bring an electric live performance, presenting listeners with the intense energy present in their new release and then some. As I've heard their sound mature and grow, this album definitely moves forth as their most ambitious and eccentric endeavor yet, one that is welcomed and revered.
Archie Powell & The Exports play Subterranean on Friday, May 2. The 17+ show begins at 8pm, with tickets costing $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Subterranean is located at 2011 W. North Avenue, (773) 278-6600.