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The Exit, ‘Home for an Island’ (Wind-Up)

The Exit have lofty goals. Apparently, they’re determined to use their second album to depict the scarred psyche of post-911 lefty America. Given that their first album sounded a lot like MXPX doing an assortment of Police covers, you really have to respect their ambition, even if it does exceed their abilities a bit.

The main problem with Home for an Island is that it seems to be assembled from bits and pieces of older music, from bands proud and humble, dating back to the earliest days of the “alternative” scene. The arena-ready sound comes from one place. The vocal harmonies from somewhere else. The occasional horns could be lifted straight from a Dave Matthews album. The earnest-yet-vague lyrics could’ve been picked up straight from a coffee shop table in Portland, Oregon, circa 1994. And the vocals sometimes take an operatic faux-British lilt that warbles through from 1997. There are even steel drums, or at least their synthesized cousin, which seem to have wandered over from an entirely different genre tag in your iPod.

Perhaps the main influence on this album, and the one which most clearly marks the trio’s growth, is the expanded dub/reggae dalliance. It sat oddly on their first album; here it’s been incorporated and integrated much more thoroughly into the sound, as have all the other influences.

The Exit isn’t quite where they want to be just yet: Their ostensibly political lyrics are murky and half-formed, and their sonic inspirations are still a bit too far to the front of their sound. But the band has serious chops, and a firm grasp on pop songcraft. Once they find a way to more clearly articulate what they’re trying to say, and emulsify it with a more thorough blending of their sonic influences, the Exit could very well become a band to be reckoned with.