The husband and wife duo of Devon Church and Aleksa Palladino make up Exitmusic and "Passage" serves as one of 2012's more intriguing albums. Their music falls under the dream-pop umbrella employed by such bands as Beach House, but they add onto that enough freak-out moments to make this a refreshing and original listen. Things can go from lovely movements of ambient electronic to creepy and dark within seconds and there are so many genres in play here it's unfair just to slap them with one particular musical label. Dream-pop, electronic rock, ambient, post-rock and more are a part of the mix.
Swimming in and around it all is the completely unique voice of Palladino. An actress since the age of 14, she is perhaps best known for her role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, but Exitmusic shows she is equally as serious about a career in music. Her vocal work is as eclectic as the music, from soft whispers to raspy growls to fluttering lullabies. The mesmerizing title track that opens the album perfectly crystallizes the listening experience ahead. Opening with a somber lone piano melody, echoes and manipulated vocals join in giving the whole thing a slightly off-putting effect. The verses are subdued and melodic but then all hell breaks loose for the chorus. It's a wonderful track, one of the album's best.
Not everything works for me here. The droning of "The Wanting" is a bit too drab and monotonous and "The City" lumbers a bit too, but stick with the album and you'll be rewarded. "The Modern Age" is the most accessible track here, almost sounding out of place, the closest thing to 'catchy' a chorus gets here and it's a goodie. And the album closes with the gorgeously haunting "Sparks Of Light", another highlight.
"Passage" was released May 22, 2012 on the Secretly Canadian label.