Sound: Expatriate are a new phase of Brit-pop even though the band are originally from Australia. There is a dreamy, atmospheric synth-pop sound in the base of their music that is reminiscent of Manchester's Joy Division and synonymous with The Dream Academy. The band's latest release In The Midst of This is sediment in atmospheric guitar flutters tapered by lead vocalist Ben King and wreath in lilting synths from Damian Press. The rhythm section of bassist Dave Molland and drummer Cristo Press wheedle a club vibe laden in dance rock hooks rather than using a shoegaze chassis like their predecessors. The band's electro-pop grooves are distinctive of post-punk generations and romantic-rock bards like Depeche Mode and OMD, but the band leans towards articulating a strong rhythmic throbbing so the tracks have a firm backbone.
Glazy sequences linger in the crevices of Air and Only Wanna Love Ya breeding a chillout ambience, which transitions into the rippling club beats of The Spaces Between and Play A Part wielding heavy rumbles that stimulate the impulse to act. The kinetic energy ruffling up the guitar flexions and the rhythmic swells of Gotta Get Home have a jagged scribble alternating between the sonic flights and ebbing. The melodic patterns are limited but the band's range fits within the parameters of mainstream rock. The songs have a mild intensity that puts them on pare with Pilot Speed and Civil Twilight. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics ruminate about the present with a common voice like in The Spaces Between as King professes, You know it's cold out there and it's dark all good things have an end / I wished upon a shooting star / I thought about the spaces between two hearts that could never ever let go / I used to watch the way she moved / The way she crossed the park and I had to buy some milk In the space between / It took so long to kind of believe that the stars will work out. There is an urgency in King words when he determines, So I thought about the end of us / The divide that would come to end our lust / If it's the last thing I do in my life / I gotta get home in Gotta Get Home. And then there are moments of self-analysis like in Blackbird as King examines, Call me a thief of your heart / Call me whatever you want. // 8
Overall Impression: There is a wanting kneaded into each song on Expatriate's album which is expressed in both the lyrics and the music. Recorded at Robert Lange's studio in Seattle and produced by John Goodmansion (Death Cab for Cutie, Hot Hot Heat), In The Midst of This spindles synth-textured guitar ruffles and shimmering keys with an undertow of throbbing beats. The vaporous gusts are charred by heavy drum kicks so King's vocals have something to stand on. It's a new phase of Brit-pop that is mainstream-friendly and modern rock-pitched. // 8