By Exit State
'Bad Days,' the debut single from Lancashire's Exit State is catchy, bass-driven, mid-tempo rock.
Its chorus follows the tried-and-tested formula of gang harmonies bouncing off frontman Roy Bright's hoarse-edged vocals. Exit State may be playing it about as safe as it gets, but it's also pretty catchy. Halfway through your first listen of that call-and-response style chorus, you'll know exactly how it's going to play out. However, this instant familiarity will make for an enjoyable listening experience, right from the start. This isn't a song you need to work at.
Elsewhere, Exit State have penned an incredibly slick riff that scratches back and forth across this song's jangly drums and tight bass grooves. When this natty bit of riffing crops up at the end of every chorus, it'll have you sitting up and taking just that little bit more notice of Exit State.
On the downside, Bright's voice occasionally doesn't ring true; his lyrics may be angry, but there's little anger detectable in his voice. Also a negative, is a fluttery guitar solo that feels vaguely like Exit State are just biding their time until the chorus kicks in. But, these two things aside, 'Bad Days' is a decent rock song with one great riff and a chorus that may be safe-as-houses, but is undeniably infectious.
Exit State once again come up with a fantastic chorus, this time for darker B-side 'Saviour.' Here, they throw up a solid wall of riffing, with the occasional guitar-flourish that puts a swagger into their stride. Bright tries his luck with more screamo-influenced vocals but, once again, there's a gap between the lyrics and his tone. This is made even more apparent by 'Saviour's darker, heavier backing guitars.
The verses employ one of the strangest sounding guitar effects I've ever heard, as their guitarist bashes out some seriously broken-up chords. The notes are so short and pulsing, you might just mistake them for an electronic beat. It may be attention-grabbing, but it doesn't really fit the song. Consequently, it sounds like the guitarist has absolutely nothing to do with the singer and the drummer. A great effect, just not for this song. The chorus is fantastic, though.
The less said about the cringe-worthy voiceover ending of final track 'Death of a Rockstar' the better. Suffice to say it's bad. Really bad. The semi-rapped, semi-spat bridge section rant is also pretty bad, but it's nowhere near as bad as the voiceover.
What makes this particularly frustrating, is that 'Death of a Rockstar' is otherwise a good song. Exit State once again deliver a massive, swaggering chorus, and the clean, anthem-sized high notes Bright hits, suit his voice far better than his attempts at gravel-throated angst. This is a chorus designed to get rooms full of lighters held aloft.
The black-hearted creep of the verses manages to be vaguely unsettling without sacrificing any of 'Death of a Rockstar's inherent catchiness, but what's particularly impressive, is how Exit State manage to take this most over-used of subject matter, and make it sound fresh. 'Death of a Rockstar' is a cliche free zone.
Exit State can pen an instantly likeable, catchy chorus and have an ear for the unusual riff. Both of these things are what gives their debut single some edge. There's also a few experimental flourishes that, although they may not quite work in the context, are well-executed and hint at a willingness to explore different musical avenues, which bodes well for their upcoming full-length.