Album Review: The Xcerts – Learning How To Live & Let Go

4/5

As many around them look to capitalize on the world’s post-pandemic craving for nostalgia, The Xcerts have decided to pivot. The British outfit, who emerged with 2009’s In The Cold Wind We Smile, look to take their fuzzy emo pop international with Learning How To Live & Let Go, and in doing so, have added a new dimension to their sound, as they add heavy production, and an electronic doze of fuzz on the new record.

Whilst at points this is still a work in progress, “Lovesick” is a splendid example of the band juxtaposing synth-laden euphoria with a frank dose of candor and relatability. Similarly, “Car Crash Culture” is alt-pop 101, but there’s a subtle elegance in the simplicity.

“Jealousy” and lead single ”Blame” are both classic The Xcerts: rousing, emo rock with garage grit and glistening pop choruses. The trio are joined by Architects’ vocalist Sam Carter for “Ache” as the album reaches its infectious, punchy pinnacle.

Much of the lyrical output is taken from a former “toxic” relationship of lead vocalist Murray Macleod. The record touches on accountability and the importance of looking inwards to find the answers, a worthwhile reminder in the empathy free social media era. This self-aware narrative takes multiple forms throughout the record, as Macleod wrestles with the idea of moving on, whilst striving to better himself.

The Xcerts have always been a lyrical force to be reckoned with. Despite the sonic shift on Learning How To Live & Let Go, Macleod’s words resonate as poetically as ever. “My Friends Forever” and “Everything I Cannot Live Without” are as heart-rendering as 2014 tearjerker “There is Only You.”

If “GIMME” started the album with a signal of The Xcerts more bombastic exploration into a new era, stripped back, ultra-moving closer “It Ain’t Easy” is a reminder that the Aberdeen outfit still cut the deepest without any of the frills.

On Learning How To Live & Let Go, much of the visceral, circle pit inducing energy that made “Do You Feel Safe?” and “Slackerpop” mainstays in alternative clubs from Glasgow to Brighton has eroded. Instead, Heron, Smith and Macleod have unveiled a new formula to grab the listener. Fuzzy pop anthems, soaring melodies and a electro-infused indie allure all adorn the new collection. Indeed, circle pit inducing are now firmly in the rearview. What hasn’t changed, however, is The Xcerts’ core. The honest lyrics, mesmerizing hooks and lofty storytelling ability are all alive and well on LP #5.

Stay up to date with The Xcerts via Instagram, here.

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