If Archie Powell & The Exports could possibly decide whether or not they wanted their sound to mirror Nirvana, MC5 or A Day To Remember then perhaps their latest record, the highly innovatively named Back In Black could’ve been a more cohesive release. As it stands, it plays like the diary of a ninth-grade burnout that can’t quite amalgamate enough genres into the pigeonhole he’s stuffed himself into.
When Powell first hit the scene, he was synonymous with power-pop and rife with more “sensitive guy” tags than James Blake. That may have been apt for 2012 Powell, but calling anything off Back In Black sensitive power-pop without coming off as highly laughable would be nearly impossible. A more suitable dubbing for Powell’s noise might be “attempted twee-punk with a hint of In Utero demos and a coda of Warped Tour 2007”. Of course, this reviewer is no prognosticator of what is defined as punk, it’s just that Powell can’t quite seem to align nail and head of hammer. Nothing quite says “Your move, Johnny Rotten” than 5 out of eleven tracks listed as explicit while the rest are supposedly acceptable for family gatherings and wakes. (However, I did once own plaid pants and consider giving myself a Mohawk so I guess I am slightly more Sid Vicious than the average bear.)
The guitar work is there – Archie Powell & The Exports have that going for them at the very least. It’s nothing extraordinary – then again, I suppose if I wanted to be impressed I’d listen to Derek Trucks or Gary Clark.
With biting lyricism such as the opening lines off the track “I’m Gonna Lose It”, “Lately girl it seems/you don’t want to be with me/weeks would pass without an action replay” how could one feel anything but absolutely floored by the biting critique of a relationship headed towards an ill fate? If that isn’t up your alley, try the poetry from “Jump off a Bridge”, “Baby you behave like you were born in the fridge/You know you wanna make me drink a fifth and jump off a bridge, yeah.”
Back To Black isn’t insipid or uninspired but rather there’s nothing to hold one’s attention. Had this been released 7 years ago I think we may have had a micro-victory on our hands for the pop-punk folks, though I’m sure all twelve of them are relishing in Mr. Powell’s work. (The tldr? It’s no Morning Phase.)
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.