On “One Too Many”, the second track from Exploded View’s self-titled debut LP, lead singer Anika tells a tale of a crumbling man at her door at 5 am, broken nose and bloodied up, against a haunting backdrop of lurching synths, boozy arpeggios, and drums plodding through the darkness. It is in such moments that Exploded View inhabits. Moments just between sunlight and darkness; breathtakingly beautiful macabre moments that are at once eerily calm and startlingly tense.
While Anika’s darkly dramatic vocals are responsible for much of the atmosphere present on Exploded View, much credit must also be given to the instrumentation and production on the album. Tones and sounds appear masked and altered by enough effects to leave the listener guessing as to their true origin. “Lost Illusions”, the album’s opener, exemplifies this technique as the track blends the synthetic and organic to create a melange of otherworldly, moody sounds to set the tone for the record.
The songs of Exploded View are not all gothic darkness, however. The synthy “Orlando” or the driving “Disco Glove” have dance-punk sensibilities that combine with Anika’s ethereal, reverb laden vocals to create a whirling aural world that leaves the listener floating amongst the rainclouds. On “Call On the Gods”, a shuffling breakbeat serves as the bed for a few sparse, droning notes until the vocals begin speaking in some post-punk version of tongues as Anika murmurs a lyrical incantation that leads to a rather interesting outro that features a fading song just out of earshot on the edges of the listening realm.
It must also be noted that while the songs on Exploded View seem exquisitely layered and carefully orchestrated, they were recorded as they were performed: fully live, fully improvised, and first-takes only. An impressive feat, especially given the tight structure of songs such as the album’s first single, the rocker “No More Parties in the Attic.” The recording technique definitely paid off, however, as it imbues the album with a freewheeling and daring vibe that makes it enthralling to hear unfold.