The Exies

A Modern Way of Living with the Truth

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The Exies never were anything but a grunge band living in a post-grunge land, something that was a bit easier to get away with at the start of their career in 2000 than in the thick of it. Even with neo-grunge bands like Nickelback lumbering across the country, the retro-grunge of the Exies feels out of date in 2007 -- possibly because Nickelback assimilates their influences into a sound that's defiantly the lowest common denominator (it's what gives 'em hits), and the Exies simply recycle Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots to their heart's content. Now, they don't necessarily do that badly, yet they do it with no flair and not a whit of originality, something that comes into sharp relief on their fourth full-length, Modern Way of Living with the Truth. There's nothing unexpected here, nothing that couldn't have fit on their other three albums and it's all something that would have felt more at home on the radio in 1994 than it would in 2007, or in 2003, when their major-label debut, Inertia, was released. Again, just because this style of heavy grunge is out of fashion doesn't mean that the Exies do it badly, and there are times when they nail the sound, if not the intent, of Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, who remain the two biggest influences on the band. On "Lay Your Money Down" they create a dead ringer for the Seattle trio and on "A Fear of Being Alone" they capture the murky neo-psychedelic hooks of STP, and these are the best moments on the record because they're powered by big hooks, both in the guitars and in the vocals. On the rest of the record, the Cobain and Weiland fixations of lead Exie Scott Stevens still hang heavy, but the songs are colorless: there are no hooks, no textures, nothing but stylized gloomy grunge. Fans looking for more of the same may be satisfied, but four albums and nearly a decade into the band's career, some fans may also be wondering if this is all there is to the Exies.

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