I heard The Exhibition for the first time back in early 2012, after I was sent a handful of recordings from the back catalogue of Of National Importance Records. The Crown/Coma 7″ (released a year earlier) was an impressive slab of dark indie, reminiscent of early Bloc Party and The Dears. They’d already been around for four years prior and had released a handful of singles and demos, but they’d passed me by – being at t’other side the country n’all. However, I was now looking forward to hearing more, but it wasn’t until the inclusion of Momento Mori on the ONI compilation Pareidolia this May that I would hear more of The Exhibition.
And the reason? Well, it took them near on two years to find a new drummer. But now, five year after forming, The Exhibition: Mark II are now back with their first release proper in quite some time.
Recorded with Alan Smyth at 2fly Studios, Man Proposes, God Disposes is hopefully the first of a couple of releases in 2013, if word from their label is anything to go by.
First up is opening track Beginning and Ending. It’s one of those magnificent pop songs that folk might say is a bit gloomy, but is anything but. Pete’s vocals smacks of Jimi Goodwin of Doves – soaring and uplifting, riding on the back of waves of crashing guitars. And straight into Fall – squiggly guitar noodles a la Johnny Greenwood, and a surprise freak-out guitar solo at the end of the track too. Some Subaltern starts with simple clean guitar and vocals, and when Pete sings ‘I found love’, it makes me think of how much he phrases like a folk singer, and that he could probably do a great job of folk like Roddy Woomble and Martin Grech did. The track is sparse, with the only percussion being tambourine, hand claps and what sounds like a triangle. It’s beautiful and hymnal, and the complete opposite to closing track A Void. You know when Editors do big anthemic indie without over-egging the goth? That’s a bit like what this one’s like. And then you get to the chorus and it’s back to the band I remember from a year ago, disco beat, summer festival worthy chorus and the last two minutes of the EP? A bloody corker. Another unexpected guitar solo, thundering drums and a final bouncing chorus.
Man Proposes, God Disposes is a step up in terms both production and song writing. The Exhibition have reigned in what came before and are now a much tighter outfit; their songs more anthemic yet still dark and brooding. Every track here is as good as any of the indie bands you’ll hear in the charts or on 6music. The four tracks on offer here are well-balanced and showcase all aspects of a really great band. Let’s not leave it two years before the next record. The world is waiting for a band as good The Exhibition.
Keep up to date with The Exhibition and Of National Importance Records on the following links: