Review ·

Plain and simple, Excepter is made up of four tricky bastards who won't let themselves be pinned down.  Last we heard from them -- on January's Sunbomber
EP -- the boys were all about the live-from-the-seat-of-their-pants
aesthetic; their voodoo-electro improv sent out to the masses in all
its rhyme-and-reasonless glory. Flash forward just six months for Alternation and, all of a sudden, there seems to be some method behind the madness -- relatively speaking.



mission statement for the album is to explore the difference between
Excepter in a live setting and Excepter in the studio and,
subsequently, to obliterate said distinction. The method? Just glance
at the title. Alternation turns out to be just that --
a revolving amalgamation of tracks recorded and composed live and in
studio. Assuming there's truth in the advertising, it's mission
accomplished. With few exceptions, these ears can't spot the difference
between live and studio cuts without consulting my cheat sheet.


sound is still sparse and damaged, but there's a sense of direction
that's absent in the group's previous output. There's no dueling synth
lines working at cross-purposes, with your ears stuck digging for
melody like it's buried treasure. Instead, the band members flex their
normally dormant pop aesthetics, pieces building upon one another as
the songs naturally ebb and flow. There are even hints of humor to be
found, like opener "Icecream Van." Starting as a gloomy dirge that
asks, "What about the ice cream man when it's cold outside and nobody
wants what he demands?" the song eventually morphs into a bouncy
rendition of "Do Your Ears Hang Low."


That Alternation
is Excepter at it's most accessible is likely no accident. Clocking in
at a little more than an hour, the album is significantly longer than
one of the band's normal releases. It's easy to imagine most listeners
losing patience with the usual brand of chaos over such an extended
period of time. Some may decry the loss of a bit of unpredictability,
but this happy medium has allowed the members of Excepter to release
their strongest collection of songs to date.


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