Archie Powell & The Exports- Back In Black (Album Review)


With their last release, 2012’s Great Ideas In Action, Archie Powell & The Exports put out one of the catchiest indie/pop rock albums of the year. Safe to say shit got real for the band as Back in Black showcases a raw shouting, harsh take on inner human emotions…mostly the pissed off kind.

Instantly noticeable is the punk/noise aesthetic that the group along with producer Jonathan Alvin, have crafted. Songs are fiercely crisp usually dying out before or at the three minute mark with vocal wails and feedback. Opener “Everythings Fucked” says it all, while the title “Mambo No. 9” masks a hardcore assault on the senses.  Across the sonic chasm “Tattoo on My Brain” flashes pop sensibility winningly combining the new aggressive vibe with the past efforts.

“Lean” and “Scary Dream” blast out with ear piercing screams and a mix of clean and overdriven guitars, the latter putting in a dancey beat underneath the chaos. Tracks like “I’m Gonna Lose It” and “The High Road” ease back on the cacophony but still retain a distorted fuzzy edge. “Jump Off A Bridge” is an outlier, playing with an industrial beat and creepy spoken word vocal delivery from Powell; experimentally odd and a bit of a misstep. The band and Powell ease up with the closing “Everything’s Cool” but there is no doubt hurt feelings are still right up at the surface.

Overall the disk plays as a messy breakup and those are never pretty, the passion and rawness contained in the tracks can be cathartic but also jarring at times. The catchy songwriting is not gone from the scene, as “Electrocute My Heart” easily demonstrates but the band mixes up a batch of ugly into their sweet sound with mixed results on Back In Black.

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