EXNATIONS Return With More Sublime Synth-Pop on New EP
The least surprising thing in the world is that EXNATIONS have released another special synth-pop gem. By this point, it’s expected, and it’s obvious, and it’s a fact of life — our favorite Brooklyn-based band do it time and time again. Thank god.
Their latest release is Pink Haze, a six-track EP of their best work yet. It’s a dynamic, confident collection that finds EXNATIONS’ tone and quality honed into something that feels whole. There are no ripped seams or unfinished fragments on Pink Haze — it’s solid. It’s sound.
Pink Haze opens with “Tether,” the EP’s lead single — an apt choice because it’s signature EXNATIONS. It has that looming, blooming nature that chugs along until it reaches its buzzy, pumping climax, much like most of the band’s discography. “Floating On A Pink Haze” follows, more theatrical than other EXNATIONS songs because it’s got more of an outright 80s bent to it, though it does mimic the sonic palette of one of their biggest hits, “Can’t Get Hurt.” On “John Hughes Movie Soundtrack,” the trio deliver precisely what we’ve always dreamed of getting from them — a neon synth-led song to interpret the angsty punch and pep of all our favorite classic coming-of-age films.
Halfway through Pink Haze comes “Slow Erosion,” the EP’s standout track. It exists in a bubble. The vocals are sculpted, confined underwater, a low and distant hum as an arrangement of smacking percussion and far-off sparkles ease into the space. There’s so much beauty to this track, a perfect example of just how thoughtful EXNATIONS are with their textures and their emotions. “Modern Kids” is another winner on Pink Haze, once again because it combines the best of EXNATIONS — drowsy vocal delivery and explosive synth-rock — but it experiments with new layers of hook-laden songwriting and clipped beats. The EP ends too soon with “Dreaming Still,” a massive cloud of swollen synth trills rising — but never quite whirling — among heartbroken power-pop balladry rhythms touched by piano sparkles and the band’s most vulnerable, painful lyrics yet.
Pink Haze is EXNATIONS at their very best. This is a record handcrafted with meticulous detail and a desire to get it right. Because of the band’s hunger to make beautiful things, they succeed. EXNATIONS have done it again — they’ve given us a dazzling selection of sad-synth gems drowning in emotion.
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Featured photo of EXNATIONS by Adele Sakey