Review Summary: The tepid, grungey arrangements of Head For The Door are discarded in favour of dynamic pop production
It’s back to basics for The Exies with their fourth studio album, the imaginatively-titled A Modern Way Of Living With The Truth
. Always a little more studious than the average rock band, taking their cue from John Lennon’s derogatory term for college-level existentialists- philosophers who question and attempt to rationalise the fundamentals of human existence- The Exies nonetheless managed to turn out one of the most artistically redundant rock albums of recent years: 2004’s Head For The Door
. It was a surprising turn for a band that just a year earlier had launched one of the decade’s overlooked rock classics; 2003’s Inertia
tread the middle ground between power pop, post-grunge and nu-metal, delivering hooks worthy of the Goo Goo Dolls with a light electronic/hard rock dynamic that suggested a less angry, more thoughtful Linkin Park.
Does A Modern Way Of Telling The Truth
then strike a middle ground, a spectacular synthesis of promise and expectation"
Who cares" That’s dialectics. Existentially
speaking, A Modern Way Of Living With The Truth
explores many of the themes expressed on earlier albums- regulation feelings of helplessness, self-doubt and regret- but with a kind of maturity and weariness that suggests real-life failures as opposed to the half-postured cynicism of Inertia
. The decision to cover Talking Heads’ ‘Once In A Lifetime’ may be, sonically, a little suspect but the lyrics neatly sum up the progression of lyricist and frontman Scott Stephens’ mindset through the album; he begins confused and disillusioned, with life or with love or with his music, begins to explore alternate paths and eventually finds absolution in the pursuit of his own personal truth- the album’s title in a nutshell.
Sound-wise, A Modern Way…
doesn’t stray too far from the core sound of Head For The Door
. There’s more variety in material. Opening track ‘Leaving Song’ boasts a folky Damien Rice-like acoustic guitar sequence, allowing Stephens to demonstrate his weathered Westerberg-esque drawl. ‘Stray’ is more-or-less lifts the chorus directly from Nickelback’s ‘How You Remind Me’ and improves upon it by default, but also by design, book-ending the sludgy chorus with a simple but beautifully atmospheric piano motif. For the most part, however, A Modern Way…
is a polished slab of ass
rock in the vein of the Foo Fighters and Nickelback, Stephens using his strained, Weiland-inspired vocals to lay stadium-sized choruses on top of chunky hard rock riffs.
It’s a mixed bag: lead single ‘Different Than You’ is a throwback to the heights of Inertia
, a melodic heavy rock track with mild electronic touches, while ‘Dose’ and ‘Lay Your Money Down’ boast razor sharp riffs and hooks to match. In relation to the last record, though, production is the major area of improvement, coming courtesy of Nikki Sixx’s writing partner James Michael. The tepid, grungey arrangements of Head For The Door
are discarded in favour of a dynamic pop production which allows Stephens to incorporate more nuance a la Inertia
. Even so, the second half can’t fend off monotony for long as the initial burst of quality gives way to inferior melodies and dour mid-tempo rock in the form of ‘These Are The Days’ and ‘My Ordinary World.’
Writing off the entire second half of the record, A Modern Way Of Living With The Truth
would have made a smashing EP. Get ready to lunge for that stop button.