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Albeit Living

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  • Sextile made a few small tweaks to their music following their debut album, A Thousand Hands, but that's the only subtle thing about Albeit Living. Named for a Circle X song, the band's sophomore set borrows from different sides of the underground, blending and streamlining them into a sound that recalls lots of bands but doesn't copy them slavishly. The way the buzzing synths that churned at the bottom of A Thousand Hands come to the fore on the feral opening track, "One of These," calls to mind Helios Creed and Chrome, while "Who Killed Six"'s wild-eyed psychobilly evokes the Horrors before they went shoegaze as well as more obvious progenitors like the Cramps. Albeit Living also boasts more tightly edited songwriting reflected in song titles that are one- or two-word statements of destruction and insanity like "Floored" and "Mental." Similarly, Sextile have sharpened their attack since their debut, ditching A Thousand Hands' brooding for weird, frantic songs that overflow with lust, anxiety, and memorable catch phrases. Brady Keehn wails "C'mon and sterilize me!" over cauterizing blasts of distortion on "Sterilized." On "Ripped," he sounds like he could lead an army into battle as he howls "Death to the fascists with the loudspeakers!" while the synths behind him have a meltdown. Indeed, Sextile's focus on electronics only makes them sound more crazed; their synths and drum machines are just as overheated as their guitars and Keehn's vocals on songs such as the alternately blas? and furious "Situations" and "AVC"'s stalking industrial grind. What Albeit Living lacks in nuance it more than makes up for in trashy, gleeful abandon -- something too many late-2010s synth punk revivalists (and rock bands in general) are missing. ~ Heather Phares
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