Before one even gets to the music, Eksi Ekso’s Brown Shark Red Lion proves itself a fairly elaborate piece of work. It comes packaged with a 28-page book of artwork, and features a backstory that involves the disappearance of an astronomer in Eastern Turkey at the end of the 1800s. This isn’t necessarily a wholly unique idea for a pop record, and the details accompanying the album recall Shearwater’s dossier that corresponded to their 2010 album The Golden Archipelago. But it certainly shows that the band is intent on giving the listener something extra. This is not a disposable digital file, as music has often become of late, but an immersive experience, one with some gorgeous and richly textured art-pop songs at that.
A trio comprising Tom Korkidis, Alex Mihm and Sean Will, Eksi Ekso flaunt a playful, yet elegant take on indie rock, often recalling the dramatic, looped compositions of Menomena, while Korkidis’ vocals strongly resemble TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. Yet, for a trio, the band makes some truly massive sounding music. It often begins simply, with layers gently piling upon one another in gradual fashion. But soon enough arises a song such as “Rein, White Sun,” with horns and a string section sending its minor-key melody into a higher plane. However, the band is incredibly subtle with their progression, kicking off “Carte de Visite” with a laid-back, synth-driven groove, only to deliver a soulful and powerful chorus without even raising the volume all that much.
Though all of Brown Shark Red Lion is quite accessible, many of its songs benefit from repeated listens, their charms unveiled with greater attention. Of course, with an album this beautifully written, not to mention wonderfully packaged, pressing play again should be no problem at all. Music this detailed and intricate is meant for close attention, and for that matter, a good set of headphones.
Stream: Eksi Ekso – Brown Shark Red Lion
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.