Review Summary: Falling Up's remix record provides an interesting, if not outstanding, listen.
I’m no super musician signed to a label or anything like that, but I gotta figure the following thought’s got to creep into the head of any signed band that is experiencing writer’s block: “Crap, writing for the new record is going slower than expected; the label’s gonna be ticked if we don’t send something new in soon. What ever shall we do? *anguished sigh*” And, if my theory is correct, the following word will appear in the head of said artist approximately three seconds afterwards:
Technically, I suppose live albums/DVDs are more common stop-gaps these days than remix records, but since the effectiveness of this entire review pretty much depends on the above assumption, humor me for a few minutes. Though they rarely work, remix albums are green-lighted by record labels under the following rationale: “Yeah, we really need these guys to churn out new material every year or so; we’d pretty much take anything.” Since few artists are prolific enough to bestow to the public brand new material every twelve months, these record labels are naturally drawn to anything that is easy, inexpensive, and slightly more artistically inclined than a sex tape featuring the lead singer. Thus, the birth of the remix album.
In defense of Oregon alternative/nu-metalers Falling Up, their stop-gap remix record, Exit Lights
, prides itself on rising above the normal standard of the genre (much like Linkin Park’s Reanimation
). The band re-cut guitars, keyboards, and drums themselves for more than half the record. Creepy Lord of the Rings
interludes are sprinkled about the record. And even stranger free verse poetry is included in the album’s liner notes, such as: “Here were the rules. We were all on the beach. Twenty of us had glow sticks. The other twenty didn’t. But we figured out that if we travel along the edge of the water and keep our left shoulders to the ocean side, this game would be ours to win.” Oo-kay.
If nothing else, Exit Lights
is quite the interesting little album just based on Falling Up’s previous track record. Their second album, Dawn Escapes
, showed little growth from their 2004 debut, Crashings
, and, while still enjoyable, called into question the band’s willingness to experiment with style. Well, this record certainly puts those questions to rest here. “Bittersweet (A Jedi Force)” and “Exhibition (Epoison)” retain only minimal vocals from their respective originals (the latter is actually built around completely new vocal melodies from CCM artist Rachael Lampa) and “Fearless (250 and Dark Stars)” bears absolutely no resemblance to the song of the same name on Dawn Escapes
– it actually features more lyrics from their song “Exit Calypsan” (which is one) than from the original.
As with Falling Up’s other discs, Exit Lights
is uneven but shows great potential, particularly when the band handles the reproduction chores themselves or with producer Tedd T. (Mute Math). The lone new song off the album, “Islander,” is an absolute stunner – notably lacking the band’s usual heavy guitar attack, the song is instead built around a revolving keyboard loop and atmospheric guitars. Lead singer Jessy Ribordy’s high register, which has occasionally been a problem in the past, seems to work perfectly with this new style. “Islander,” along with the industrial-tinged “Exit Calypsan (Into the Ice Cave)” and “Broken Heart (Ghosts of Seaside),” successfully creates a dark, eerie vibe that permeates the rest of the bright spots on the disc.
Unfortunately, Exit Lights
also suffers from schizophrenia caused by the multiple producers on the disc. “Escalates (Aceramic)” and “Searchlights (Indoor Soccer)” are standard issue remixes and Family Force 5 lead singer Solomon Olds’ ‘80s techno-meets-Zack de la Rocha remix of “Moonlit (Neon Predator),” though quite interesting, is a complete non sequitur that doesn’t fit in with the rest of the record. Ultimately, the vision for this record was good – heck, simply having
a vision for a remix record is an accomplishment in itself – but you can’t help but feel that Exit Lights
falls short of what Falling Up wanted this to be.
In other words, it’s like every other Falling Up record. Since these guys are only now getting into their twenties, that’s not a bad thing. The potential exists in this band to not only become commercially huge but also create innovative art as well. Though far from perfect, Exit Lights
is certainly worth a listen for a fan of the band or adventurous rock. And in the standard of the remix album, “worth a listen” is high praise indeed.