EP Review: EXNATIONS – Tiny Sound In The Dark

Perhaps the most remarkable part of EXNATIONS‘ Tiny Sound In The Dark EP, due for release tomorrow, is not its classic synth or its poppy melodies; it is the EP’s impressive cohesion, despite the fact that all three band members were rarely in the same place at the same time. According to the band’s bio, frontman Sal Mastrocola, guitarist Dan Ciarrocchi, and drummer Taylor Hughes used home recording techniques to share tracks while miles–and even states–apart, putting it all together at the end for the final mixed product.

Exnations-TinySoundInTheDark-Cover.jpgThere’s a high-energy feel to the synthpop album; on “Celebration / Sign” and “Blank White” especially, Hughes’s drums drive the EP, building tension and excitement throughout all five tracks. It’s all pretty low throughout, and the former track sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to an indie coming-of-age film.

The rest of the EP, though, is similar; classic synth and modern-sounding melodies mesh together nicely, and it reminds me almost of a blend between Say Hi and Bleachers, or if Eric Elbogen had taken influence from more ’80s pop bands.

Halfway through, the third track is my favorite on the EP: “Wore All Black” is a surprisingly cute love song, and while the dark feel doesn’t match the lyrics at first, a playful guitar melody layered under the synth in the chorus keeps it sweet as Mastrocola sings, “Every time I see you/My heart jumps just a little bit” and “So come on, baby/Come on, take my hand.” It’s sweet and a little slower than the rest, closer to a ballad than a dance track.

Exnations06.jpeg
Photo by Adele Sakey.

Many indie pop bands struggle with cohesion even while in the same room; on Tiny Sounds In The Dark, EXNATIONS has managed a difficult feat while in different area codes. And on top of that, the music found on the EP is energizing, classic synthpop that’s almost impossible to resist dancing to.

 

In addition to tomorrow’s EP release, the band has a short series of four shows along the east coast, including shows in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New York. More information can be found here.

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