Cheap Time – Exit Smiles Review

cheap time exit smiles

Cheap Time’s bluesy, psychedelic punk rock hits hard on their fourth album, Exit Smiles.

In The Red, 2013

7.3 / 10

When punk first started forming, it was born out of a disinterest and a distate not just for modern society but for modern music as well. Nashville’s Cheap Time carry on this tradition with a brand of punk rock that feels both bored with itself and bristling with nervous energy. Of course, being “bored with itself” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering that’s how The Sex Pistols’, Pavement’s, and T. Rex all characterize their sound. Cheap Time are in good company, and their fourth full-length record, Exit Smiles finds the band playing at their most refined.

Cheap Time’s formula is still here: lo-fi, rock-n-roll with inflections of power pop, psychedelia, and punk. However, this time around, the band’s sound is melody-driven more so than any of their previous outings. So while psychedelia or punk rock might turn some listeners away, Cheap Time’s sense of melody is so strong that it almost doesn’t even matter what kind of music they’re playing. The band’s music is rough around the edges, but just enough so that it gives the listener a little kick, but not too much that it ever sounds abrasive. They’re able to sell their own nihilism while caring very much for the quality of the songs here. The title track’s chorus feels like an attack; “Country and City” sustains itself on a killer groove; “Kill The Light” has a hook that’s undeniable. The only thing that hinders Exit Smiles is how familiar it all sounds.

I wish I could talk more about Exit Smiles — it’s a good album, and I’m sure these songs are killer live, but they don’t inspire much conversation. Clockin’ in with eight tracks, Exit Smiles doesn’t wear out its welcome. It leaves the listener wanting more without feeling slighted by a brief run time. Cheap Time cares less about innovation and more about refinement. These songs are great distillations of the band’s influences, but they don’t sell themselves well. Because the band’s sound is so familiar, it’s hard to recommend this to others. If you enjoy the work of fellow garage-rockers Ty Segall or Mikal Cronin, you’re sure to find plenty here to love. However, if you’re one of those people that think that garage rock is a dead scene, Cheap Time won’t sway your argument.

Key Tracks:
“Exit Smiles”
“Country and City”
“Modern Taste”

Purchase: In The Red Records / Amazon

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