The Xcerts


Written by: TL on 10/11/2010 23:34:04

When I posted a review of The Xcerts' debut LP "In The Cold Wind We Smile" last night around this time, I remarked on how that record had immediately done more to win my affection than its successor "Scatterbrain". What I did not disclose, was that while the debut swept me away with less than a handful of listens, repeat listens to the new album has let it creep up on me, slowly convincing me that it is as good, if not an even better record! So of course you're getting a review of that as well:

One could be forgiven for missing the link between the first and the second album, seeing as the three Scotsmen making up The Xcerts, have changed their sound quite a bit from one to the other. The change is likely brought about by the band taking the advice of some dude called Jesse Lacey, who recommended they made their second album in collaboration with producer Mike Sapone, a man who have formerly worked with, among others, Lacey's band Brand New, Crime In Stereo, Straylight Run and Taking Back Sunday.

Now, to call The Xcerts' new sound a mesh of those bands would be stretching it a bit, but it is rather impossible not to notice the similarities between "Scatterbrain"'s constituent elements, the soft, atmospheric strummings of "The Devil And God Is Raging Inside Me" and the urgent, noisy outbursts of "I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone". What gives the mix a distinct identity however, seems to be that The Xcerts are rather quirky than moody, offering lyrics that frontman Murray Macleod has described as: "I didn't really think they were making much sense [...] When people hear the lyrics, they're just hearing 30 minutes of my thoughts". This makes for a rather schizophrenic back-and-forth between lines sung with either passion or detachment, establishing a weird mood that has me thinking of The Pixies, whom The Xcerts also claim among their influences.

None of this can be considered the gist of the matter though. It's all circumstantial to the fact that Macleod and his friends, Jordan Smith on bass and Tom Heron on drums, have filled a second album in a row, from cover to cover, with music that's worth your time and attention. Due to the quirky, at some times introverted attitude of the new material, it takes a bit longer to make friends with, than the heart-on-sleeve approach of the former album, but given a handful of listens, both the mood and the hooks will start to crawl in through your mental back door, up under your skin, and into your consciousness. I'd mention "I Scare Easy", single "Young (Belane)", "Hurt With Me" and "Gum" as highlights, but in reality, this is a record that will end up feeling like the kind you want on from end to end. And because the realization of its quality almost sneaks up on you, it continues to feel like an album you want to hear again immediately after its last note fades away.

That's my take at least, though I guess I may have ruined that for you, having told on the record like this. Regardless, it suffices to say that The Xcerts have quickly set themselves up in my mind, as one of the best new bands I've learned of this year, and you know what's really good about them? According to Macleod, they like recording so much that they feel like they can put out an album a year. If they can show the same appetite for trying out new sounds, while retaining a tight grip of quality song-writing, consider if this band couldn't be one for the ages? I know I think/hope so, so you better believe I'm putting up the big rewards in two reviews in a row.

Download: I Scare Easy, Young (Belane), Hurt With Me, Gum
For The Fans Of: Crime In Stereo, Brand New, The Pixies, Biffy Clyro

Release Date 04.10.2010
Xtra Mile Records

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