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Excepter: Debt Dept

Excepter: Debt Dept

Label:Paw Tracks
Release Date:2008

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 5/7/2008

With Debt Dept, Excepter has stumbled upon a trio of important realizations. First, female vocals enhance the Brooklyn, N.Y., outfit's fractal-electro sound. Second, zeroing in on a central theme--in this case, the spiraling decline of Western Civilization--gives listeners something extra to hold onto. Last, there's no harm in embracing melodic coherence. Accordingly, frontman John Fell Ryan and his gang of DJs, multi-instrumentalists, and reverbed-out fly grrls rebound nicely from post-Thrones letdowns--2005's house-obsessed Self Destruction, '06's improv fiasco Sunbomber, and '06's semisterile opus Alternation--with an out-and-out protest-party album.

The mood is Halloween festive, the themes less so. "Kill People" is a motley, maniacal matrix of exhortations to do just that, set to dilating, repeating synthesizer patterns and sheet-metal/handclap stamps; it's as if we're watching this homicidal meme spread like a virus. "How much money are we worth/ On planet Earth?" Ryan wonders on "Entrance," his subsequent ponderings increasingly consumed by the song's jumbled, glistening bricolage: sampler effects galore, puckered synths, clarion-call guitar riffs, breakbeat bursts, vocal impressionism courtesy of Lala Harrison, Clare Amory, and Jon Nicholson. "Burgers"--a distant, prettier cousin of Salt-n-Pepa's saucy "Push It"--throbs insistently and with cracked pop purpose; "Turn the body over!" Harrison and Amory harmonize repeatedly, their deliveries inappropriately lascivious as Nathan Corbin's unstoppably bumpin' bass line bats ghost-vocal swarms around the crowded sonic space. Debt Dept is actually fun, even if its politics are as murky as its sonics.

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