Exploded View's debut contains a ghostly sound that manages to whisk listeners into an illusion.
There is a depression within Exploded View's self-titled debut that does not hide itself from its audience. The Mexico City/Berlin-based band plays around with a black and white sound through an effortless improvisation. Hysteria is the word that gracefully encapsulates Exploded View. Much like an exploded-view drawing, there are different parts that move the contraption of music. The record fiddles around with each cog without being too experimental or avant-garde. Exploded View becomes a band that know their sound: hazy and depressed.
This combination of emotion and atmosphere creates the mainstay of Exploded View's ghostly sound. Annika Henderson's vocals do not have the intention to haunt. Henderson's voice is akin to a sleepwalker going mad. Hugo Quezada's bass manages to impress and consistently apply lunacy to an already chaotic record. And while Martin Thulin's drums can at times be out of place, they manage to jar when the occasion is right. It is the improvisation of the band that makes Exploded View stand out.
When Henderson starts vocalizing on "Lost Illusion", memories of Grace Slick surface. The mesmerized tone of both singers immediately begins trapping listeners. The track sets up the overall mood of Exploded View: dank and musty, while also being overwhelmed in sexual musk. "Disco Glove" accentuates the feeling by having bass notes and high squeals push and pull your ears into the domain of a sexed-up club, where everyone is drunk. The facet to "Disco Glove" that is enticing is its use of industrial tones, forgetting melody in favor of calamity. When it talks about Robert DeNiro -- likely attuning listeners to his rebellious role in Taxi Driver -- and masturbation, it wants to engage listeners in its twisted art.
The moments that focus on this twisted look never feel out of place. "No More Parties in the Attic" motions toward listeners with a slow crawl, creeping along with its synth and thumping drums. Each instrument clamors around with the mess it has made. The track's talk of memories is touching, not only Henderson's vocal presence. "One Too Many" crafts an atmosphere that is nearly vacant, but never empty. Its tone of restlessness is the kind that reminds one of Yorgos Lanthimos' film The Lobster. "Call on the Gods" is one of the more "normal" tracks on Exploded View, with its marching band step and stream of consciousness, one that functions like an illusion. It is by this point in the record that one wonders if this debut really is an illusion.
The album waves is so much like a facade, yet the percussion is what brings its audience back from true immersion. Tracks like "Stand Your Ground" and "Orlando" have percussion that is too loud within its environment. However, it works well in the latter because it has the quality of being a dance track, with its crystallized keys. Yet when the lyrics ask "Is that just a dream", one cannot help but say it is not. The drumming makes it hard to be in that dream. Yet the percussion works to the record's advantage on the more tribal-sounding "Beige" and "Killjoy", a song with a surprising western twang.
Exploded View are not a band of ghosts: they are more so a band of great musicians playing living ghosts, lost in the world and moving oddly through life. The sounds of sex, intoxication, and infinite bliss are what drive this record. Exploded View is something troubled, and in its consistency does it succeed in showing itself as such.