Love Inks - Exi | Album Review | By Volume

The kid that went down isn't dead; he just can't find his phone. The Hold Steady - Almost Everything
LoveInksExi

Love Inks

Exi

A deceptive gem of a record.

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Author: on September 19, 2014
7.5
Republic of Music
September 8, 2014

Commanding negative space isn’t easy. Really, it can be a master’s mark. When it comes to a medium such as music, this talent becomes even more rare, as songwriting in and of itself sometimes defeats silence. Austin trio Love Inks fall into a category that can be shared with the likes of The XX, James Blake and Laura Marling; their music is tempered, minimalist and frequently is built on the back of the same throbbing drum machine beat. Exi isn’t a barnstormer of a record. You might even initially think it a bit boring, or one note – but this isn’t the case when given a bit of time to sink in. Exi is all about the melodies, tempered as they may be, they’re quite beautiful. Love Inks find distinct grooves within each of their songs, and clocking in at just over thirty minutes, Exi is a very easy record to settle into and then out of as it fades into nothingness and buzzing reverb.

There’s a comfort to be found within Exi, a casual cool the band exude effortlessly, that’s also easy to become enamoured by. The hooks are deceptively enormous, which is makes Exi a rewarding and intricate album. From the surface it seems so simple, so coy at times, but given time to worm you way deeper and deeper, there’s further levels to these songs that can be found. “You were never there when you should have been / You could never see what was right in front of you / If leave it to me, I’ll see you around / See you again? Well, I doubt that now”, Sherry LeBlanc sings elegantly on the album’s title track. It’s possibly the albums best moment and it’s delivered with this confident shyness. But this could be said for most of Exi, a record with serious swagger but something still strangely distant in its air — like you were looking down to view Love Inks playing from a six-foot deep hole. But this confidence runs through them, as if they were going down with the ship, as it were. Their hole in the ground steadily filling with dirt, yet they push on undaunted.

To be fair, I want to talk to you now / It’s time, I wanna see your face / Come over to my side now / Come see me / Let’s be erased” LeBlanc utters on “New West”, one of Exi’s best tracks. This conversational tone to LeBlanc’s lyrics give them a gravitas that help Exi feel as heavy as it does. Which is a good thing, as from the outside one could assume these light sounding songs would blow away like a feather in the wind. They don’t though, as Exi drags you down in the best way possible. It’s an album to focus in on and enjoy. To be blared loud and proud, for sure, but not in the rallying sense, as some pre-party anthems. Exi is an album to cook to, to read or sleep with it on in the background. An album to study and observe as it becomes part of you – which it will. Maybe not the most exciting part, but an important one none the less. “I’ve been knocking on your door for forty years by now / And it’s open, now it’s open / But I don’t know how”, LeBlanc reveals on the elegant “Sky Machine”, and I can’t help but feel like this describes Love Inks current position in their evolution as a band. They’ve opened a door to something special, and after years and years of work, all there’s left to do is walk through the opening.

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