ExitMusic @ The Lexington, London 06.11.12

As the nights start to get a lot darker a lot earlier in the day and the need for more layers of clothes to combat the bite of an autumn that seems to be joined at the hip to this year’s winter becomes a fashion priority, you could do a lot worse than look to Brooklyn’s ExitMusic to soundtrack the bleakest of months. With debut album Passage receiving much critical acclaim since its release this year, the husband and wife duo of Aleksa Palladino (who fans of HBO’s prohibition drama ‘Boardwalk Empire’ will recognize as Bohemian artist Angela Darmody) and Devon Church make their way onto the stage at the Lexington tonight, a stage which is swamped by leads and effects pedals, and proceed to make an hours’ worth of stunning, impassioned noise.

Nov 6th, 2012 at The Lexington, London / By Lewie Peckham
Exitmusic Against a flickering backdrop of super 8mm footage the opener ‘Passage’ proceeds to encompass everything that makes ExitMusic such a gut-wrenching, visual ride. Musically it’s a combination of XX style electronic sparseness with washes of gloomy guitar chords and delay laden melodies that build and release into the cinematic climaxes of the most heartfelt of post-rock. Palladino is stunning to listen to as well as watch, her voice a gorgeous bruise that blooms into a controlled wail that is at odds with her diminutive frame. At times her vocals bring to mind the gothic moan of Zola Jesus with both singers able to mix vulnerability with steely-eyed cool. Palladino however takes more from David Lynch urban noir and lost torch songs than the Siouxsie-esque blackness of Jesus. ExitMusic conjure up late night walks around urban sprawls like New York or London, areas which are bustling during the day but come alive with eerie charm once people leave and parts of the city turn into desolate ghost towns.

Devon Church is visually compelling to watch also, content to play the sturdy musical rock to Palladino’s barely controlled emotional heart while wringing out washes of guitar noise from his Les Paul. During songs like ‘The Night’ and ‘The City’ church’s chiming minor chords complimenting the flurry of reverbed notes that Aleksa Palladino picks out on her guitar as he finishes the set in a wave of discordance attacking his guitar with a violin bow. Throughout tonight’s set few words are uttered apart from gracious “thank you’s” and “goodbyes” but when the audience is stunned into devoted silence by the sheer weight of ExitMusic’s songs, between song patter seems almost redundant.

Whenever the term “Actor-Musician” is mentioned it always seems to come back to Keanu Reeves 90’s attempt at alt-rock credibility with the woeful Dogstar or vanity projects like the Pitchfork point scoring by Scarlett Johansson begging to be taken seriously as a credible artist by working with TV on the Radio’s David Sitek and calculatingly namechecking Serge Gainsbourg, Tom Waits and David Bowie as influences. When you see Aleksa Palladino on her knees at one point, arms outstretched imploring to an open mouthed, astonished crowd during the beautiful ‘Storm’ there is no doubt that ExitMusic are very much a real deal.