Album review: Expatriate
IT has been nearly 5 years since Sydney electro-rock outfit Expatriate released their debut album, and with no new original material offered over that time, you could be forgiven for thinking the band had fallen off the face of the earth.
For the band though, the last 5 years have been some of the busiest and chaotic periods of their lives, it's just they just haven't been in their native country for any of it.
Expatriate by name, Expatriates by nature, the band left Australia to base themselves in Berlin during the winter of 2008, one can only presume to follow in the footsteps of other bands that have made seminal albums in the German capital.
Berlin has proved to be a source of inspiration for a number of acts including David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Nick Cave's first outfit The Birthday Party and U2.
Listening to Hyper / Hearts, the bands second offering, there are definitely elements some those acts in its influences but mainly the latter.
After their first release, the 4 piece wanted to further develop their sound and were aiming for a much bigger and more textured sound than the somewhat stripped down sound of In The Midst of This.
And if anything, they have certainly achieved that with Hyper / Hearts.
The album kicks off with Miracle Mile which sounds like a cross between The Music and the Black Rebel Motorcycle, combining the driving dance beats and effortless rock'n'roll swagger that both those acts are respectively famous for.
It's an absolute stomper and solid opener for an album that promises a big, textured sound.
The problem, however is that this momentum is lost by the next track and is not really picked up again throughout the album, with the band focusing more on dark, electronic pop songs throughout the rest of the album's track list.
Don't be mistaken though, there are some genuinely good moments in the songs that follow, it's just Miracle Mile is a clearly different beast to the other tracks on Hyper / Hearts.
Latest single, 'Do You Remember' is one of the brightest, poppiest moments, with its big chorus and dense layers of sound and is actually a little hit of summer in an otherwise wintry album.
Other highlights include Easier with its throbbing bass line and atmospheric synths, it's reminiscent of some of Nine Inch Nails earlier work, albeit much poppier.
The album does up the tempo a bit towards the end of the album, with tracks Skool and Kunskopf harking back to some of the bands earlier material like, but with a definitive industrial vibe.
It must be said that it is nothing short of risky for this band to have spent 5 years getting their second album together, but you have to admire their drive and commitment to get Hyper / Hearts sounding 'right'.
Though there are few tracks on the album that are as instant as Miracle Mile, Hyper / Hearts is a slow burner that should keep you company on a lonely winters night.