Cheap Time have continued to evolve from their snotty punk debut, trawling through Dave Davies explorations, toughening back up for a third album of post-glam leather-scuffed rockers and now refining that image into an expansive punk format that seems to be digesting bouts of Only Ones, Sparks and Television; feeling for the higher minded corners of punk's lineage. "Kill The Light" was a standout on the recent Scion garage comp and the band makes good on some of the promises laid down there, including that track in the lineup here and expounding on its snarled new wave crunch all over their fourth album. Adding to the fray is new bassist and Heavy Cream vocalist Jessica McFarland, who puts some tight screws on the bass and occasionally offers up a nice vocal counterpoint to Jeffery Novack, giving songs a new harmonic dimension. Novak and co. seem to have finally found their balance between flirtations with endless deviations on the punk formula and the rail-splitting, sneer lined chuggers that they've always excelled at. Exit Smiles feels like the band becoming more comfortable in their own skin, knowing where they excel and knowing when to push those skills into their personal passions with a newly attuned swagger.
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