If the cover of The Exit's debut, New Beat
, portrayed them as idealistic young '70s punk disciples, Home for an Island
's sleeve shows a trio of rock-star decadents partying down with the three W's: wine, whiskey and women. Influence-wise, though, they've hardly thrown over the Clash for the Stones. Home...
has the same pop sensibility, married to liberal doses of heavily dubbed-up reggae, that garnered the Exit so many comparisons to the Police, as well as Strummer et al
. In fact, you can practically hear "Message in a Bottle"'s final refrain behind singer/bassist Jeff DaRosa floatily intoning "I left my home for an island..." on the album's title track. I don't mean to imply that the band's sound is unduly derivative; they're skilled at nodding heartily to the past while concentrating on the future, starting with DaRosa's hyper-pretty vocal style (no Sting rasp or Strummer snarl there) and the harmonies furnished by guitarist Ben Brewer. If they were playing a bit faster, I'd have to call them emo, especially given the heart-on-sleeve nature of certain lyrics ("If you find love hold tight / Don't push your love away").
Home for an Island is a collection of mature, well-played and well-written songs that, unfortunately, aren't nearly as catchy as anything the Exit's predecessors put out. You may never fall in love with it, and you'll have to give it a few listens before you do. But it's worth at least that.