[sic] Magazine

Exit Calm – Exit Calm

The release of the debut Exit Calm album is something of a red letter day for me. Having followed the South Yorkshire band since their days as Lyca Sleep I had to see if the album could live up to the promise of the live shows and EP’s. Musically Exit Calm are a fusion of Britpop confidence, shoegaze effects and ‘summer of love’ jams. Conceptually, they’re more of a throwback to the 80’s big sound of The Waterboys , Big Country and most famously, U2 . Exit Calm would rather deal in oceans and mountains than angst or the everyday mundane. Theirs is a ‘sky’s the limit’ ambition, a widescreen dream which sees themselves squarely as Britain’s best band. Hell, why stop at Britain?

For those who need a reference, Exit Calm could be said to be a little like early Verve if we play down the Ashcroft balladry and accentuate Nick McCabes guitar wig-outs. (McCabe is himself a fan.) Nicky Smith has a great rock voice, sounding permanently fatigued almost to the point of his voice tearing. Throw in a rhythm section that would have graced the Stone Roses Second Coming and you have a fair idea what Exit Calm are capable of laying down – solid, metronomic grooves with skyward guitars and a propensity toward climactic endings.

History may have been unkind but anthems are back. Before the likes of Simple Minds tarnished the memory forever, bands like The Sound , The Bunnymen and The Chameleons did anthems rather well. There is a time and a place for rabble rousing. Arena sized stadia at 9.30PM for one. Exit Calm have loaded their debut with weighty, mighty songs. ‘Hearts And Minds’ for example could open pretty much any album. Here it’s almost thrown away in fourth place – the third huge song out of the opening four. Stay this way and it could get tiring. Thankfully the album then begins alternating between the aforementioned stadium-shakers and more subtle, ambient pieces. Here for me Exit Calm show their true excellence.

Bono once said, of The Unforgettable Fire, “we didn’t go to art-school, so we went to Eno” . Exit Calm have already been to Ulrich Schnauss , who has a shout of being a Brian Eno for today. The effect has certainly rubbed off on wonderful pieces such as ‘Atone’ or the Slowdive -drenched ‘Reference’. Have Exit Calm made their Unforgettable Fire? Not quite. ‘Pride (in the name of love)’ may have suited a moment in 1984 but it quickly became somewhat curled up at the edges. Exit Calm should take care not to include too many ‘Pride’s of their own. Listening to ‘We’re On Our Own’ feels like being locked in a bell-tower during practice. Too much of this will give a man shell shock.

The whisper is sometimes louder than the shout.

I’ve witnessed some great debuts. Unknown Pleasures, The Stone Roses, Puressence, Turn On The Bright Lights, Script Of The Bridge might well form part of the Exit Calm DNA. In all those cases, the bands wisely took their time over their first official opus. Exit Calm have done the same and done us proud. This debut sits somewhere between those of Vib Gyor and The Boxer Rebellion. What Exit Calm do next will be crucial though. Can they find the balance between power and restraint? Can they somehow kick on from here? If they can greatness is theirs.



Label Focus: Club AC30