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Exit Clov – Memento Mori

on May 17, 2010, 8:00am

Exit Clov, the name, is an homage to Samuel Beckett’s Endgame. It also serves as a call to arms and a personal manifesto for the band. Exit Clov, the band, is a Washington D.C.-based quintet led by twin sisters Emily and Susan Hsu who claim to be inspired by the madness of their city. When you live in the political capital of America, it’s hard not to be influenced by everything around you. They’re a young band that sings to a young audience – their music is music for 21st century kids. Formed in 2003, the band released a series of EPs  (a total of four) throughout their first three years of existence before recently releasing their first full length LP, Memento Mori.

While Exit Clov don’t sound like any one specific band, it’s no secret what kind of bands have an influence on them. Taking cues from everyone from Blondie to Metric, Exit Clov make pleasant  indie-pop that has been described as “kaleidoscopic pop noir.” The angelic harmonious voices of the twin sisters stand out immediately, sounding not too dissimilar from another pair of twin female leads, Tegan & Sara. The rest of Exit Clov’s music can be a bit more eclectic – blending synth beats with soft violins, heavy guitar effects, and electric keyboards.

If you’re a sucker for a good hook, Exit Clov is your kind of band. They have a self-proclaimed love for a good hook, and they know how to work their way around one. The chorus of lead single “District Menagerie” is guaranteed to bounce around in your head until you find yourself humming or whistling it hours after your first listen. That’s not to say that every song is a pop standout; the band also knows when to slow it down and does so with gorgeous results. Album closer “Richie Valens” ends the album on a sweet note, a simple piano ballad that adds layers until the full band is rocking softly on a wave of cymbals and violins that they ride till the end of the song and the album.

Throughout Memento Mori, Exit Clov remains accessible while still maintaining a dark edge, even on the sweetest sounding songs. Echoing their surroundings, the band is politically and socially aware but doesn’t bludgeon you over the head with it like some do. Album opener “Strippers & Politicians” doesn’t sacrifice any of their pop sensibilities while it offers a bit of political discourse. “Strippers and politicians are made to dance around/but I’m free at my inclination not to make a sound/see this, this ain’t a show/so maybe you ought to go”

The rest of the album follows suit, balancing light indie-pop with slightly political lyrics. Some of the songs fall short of memorable, but the album is always at the very least pleasant. But when they get it right, they get it very right. Most of the songs on Memento Mori will suck listeners in with a great hook, then leave them implanted in their minds for the rest of the day – making them want to come back for more.