Larvae: Exit Strategy
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Larvae eschews bombast for a relatively subtler brand of post-rock/electronica on his fourth album Exit Strategy. It's also a cohesive and tightly focused affair in that, unlike past efforts (specifically the 2003-08 trilogy formed by Fashion Victim, Dead Weight, and Loss Leader), Matthew Jeanes' latest also excludes vocals, guest appearances, and remixes. Consequently, the success or failure of the album material, which weighs in at a tidy forty-five minutes, falls completely on his shoulders. He needn't worry a whole lot on that count, however, as the ten-track recording is a perfectly fine collection. Purely instrumental and often melancholy in tone, Exit Strategy finds Jeanes doing a credible one-man-band simulation in atmosphere-heavy tracks dominated by electric guitar, bass, organ, strings, and electronic beats, whether it be the plaintive opener “Locked From the Inside” or the wide plains drift of “Her Hair.”

The album could be said to straddle the post-rock and shoegaze traditions, as a slow-burning character associated with the latter permeates tracks such as “The Switch” and “Easy,” and a bit of Badalamenti-styled foreboding can also be heard in the brooding, beatless landscape “Quitter.” Jeanes hasn't entirely cast off the hip-hop feel that surfaced in his past releases, as shown by the swinging pulse animating “Vows & Promises,” but it's downplayed in favour of the aforementioned shift in sound and style. A funky brand of dub also emerges in the slow tempo and pulsating bass lines of “Remarkable” and “The Life You Waste May Be Your Own” but, once again, such tendencies are countered by an instrumental attack grounded in post-rock and shoegaze that's just as strong. Part of the album's appeal is that none of its ten tracks takes more than five minutes to state its case before exiting. Here and elsewhere, concision is always welcome.

May 2012