National Skyline’s EP Exit Now only contains four songs, but that’s not a problem. It feels like an entire album. Wasting no space, National Skyline fills every moment with more emotion and intensity than is found on most full-length albums. It may not even be a half-hour’s worth of music, but every second is worth it.
The individual songs have little in common except for a thematic unity. Each song’s sound is unique and bears little resemblance to the others. While it seems to be a bit disconcerting at first, the diversity found here speaks to National Skyline’s ability. Every song is well thought out and complete, and compliments the others. Despite their sonic variety, the four songs feel like a unit, each dealing with a search for self and meaning in daily life.
Exit Now opens with the gentle “October”, which has a fun modern rock feel to it. The effortless vocals of Jeff Garber give the song a lightness as he sings “I don’t want to defy you, I just want to define me”. This line sets the tone for the songs to follow.
“Identity Crisis” is a joyful echo of Beck, with a sense of playfulness, juxtaposing aliens and autumn against the chorus of “Everybody has a secret they don’t want to tell. When they die, it all comes out”. It’s not the most serious song, but the message remains intact.
The third track, atmospheric “Ghosts”, is the EP’s centerpiece, shifting the second half of Exit Now away from lightheartedness into darker territory. With hushed vocals by Jeff Dimpsey, the almost dissonant layers of sound on “Ghosts” create a dark, dreamlike effect, as haunting as it is beautiful.
The EP concludes with the hypnotic distortion of the epic “Karolina II”. Existing mostly as an exercise in melodic noise, the 12-minute track features about three minutes of solid distortion. Surprisingly, National Skyline is able to sustain this period of time without becoming tedious or pretentious.
If Exit Now is any indication of National Skyline’s abilities, then we all have reason to be excited. With the power they’ve put into four songs, one can only imagine how bright their future is.
// Notes from the Road
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