EXPATRIATE — Hyper/Hearts
Responsible for 2007’s impressive In The Midst Of This LP and hit singles Crazy and The Spaces Between, EXPATS went quiet for several years, then delivered a sophomore album — and it’s also pretty good. PETE WALSH investigates.
Enigmatic ex-Sydneysiders Expatriate have just polished off a swag of Australian tour dates that saw them emerge from their secret European hideout. After their move to Berlin in 2008, the band have nailed down some impressive accolades including supporting Placebo on their European tour, yet have managed to stay off the radio long enough to leave fans wondering. Luckily, their long-awaited sophomore effort, Hyper/Hearts, is brimming with continued promise of big success.
Nominally decent tunesmiths, the band still seem to be caught in the ether between indie pop-rock and soft alt-rock as the vague juvenility of their sound battles with the maturity of their musical prowess. The ‘80s synthpop undertones on the album are abundant and — naturally — elements of The Cure and The Smiths slip through the cracks in the outer shell of indie rock. That being said, Expatriate pull off the synth interplay in their music stunningly: it fills spaces and gaps and generally beefs up their brand of dreamily infectious tunes. Ben King’s vocal stylistics these days lean towards the baritone drawl of big-name indie outfits like Editors (who the Expats memorably supported in 2007) and The National. But King is also able to channel vocalists like Coldplay’s Chris Martin — particularly on tracks like It’s You and Dangerous Stranger. The LP’s gentle, glass-half-full sound wavers between upbeat and downtempo tracks, showcasing a multifarious range of disturbingly addictive tunes.
PETE WALSH is an ex-Rave contributor and vagrant writer, as well as a bit of a literati, music aficionado and coffee snob.