This is my first solitary album review, and since this is one of my personal favorites, I figured it good enough to start with. Though Passage came out in 2012, I didn't discover it until 2015 (thank you, Spotify). I was already familiar with front woman Aleksa Palladino, who I'd seen on TV shows like Boardwalk Empire and Rogue. Little did I know, she fronted a band in an underrated genre of music. Exitmusic fit in nicely with other genre favorites Beach House, Daughter, and Lanterns On the Lake.
"The City," switches it up from somber and optimistic to a more aggressive effort, especially in the chorus. The band seems to take us on an visceral roller coaster ride, displaying every aspect of every emotion possible. The song remains calm and collected, though slightly volatile throughout the verse, only to explode in the chorus with pounding drums and guitar string lashings. The dark tune was actually used for the short-lived TV drama, Dracula, starring Irish actor Jonathan Rhys-Myers.
"Stars" is extremely ethereal, and much like "Storms," it carries a deeply emotional chorus with it. I can't begin to fit myself into the mind of Aleksa Palladino, but these songs seem to be penned by someone who has experienced a lot of sorrow and grief, wearing them like a badge throughout the album. "The Modern Age" is one of the band's more popular tunes, while "The Cold" reminds you that "you are alone/I read it in the paper." The delicate melody and the agonizing whines are enough to incite chills. The finale, "Sparks of Light," is the most similar to the songs featured on their 2007 debut, The Decline of the West.
Passage is a remarkable album from start to finish. I only wish that Palladino would place as much emphasis on Exitmusic as she did her acting career, though I understand that we live in a world where artists who want to keep their musical integrity are rendered starving. During a rough patch in my life, Sigur Ros' Agaetis Byrjun and Denali's self-titled album were there to comfort me. Exitmusic's Passage is a perfect culmination of the two, which is why I'm such a fan (that, and because of Palladino's soulful, poetic lyrics). Passage is entirely understated in the greater scope of indie music, so I'm glad a few of the songs featured on it have gotten enough attention to appear on shows such as Dracula and Showtime's Shameless. The band has a debut album, an EP, which was actually more like a preview of the songs on Passage, and then Passage itself. They collaborated with labelmates Mister Lies for the electronic track "Hounded," and composed a cover Bowie's "Space Oddity," which I personally think is better than the original (Oh yes, I said it). The material on Passage is dark in more ways than one, but it's the wistful kind that makes you appreciate the beauty in sadness.