Subtle - ExitingARM (***)
album review for the skinny
The best thing about Subtle's 2005 thriller For Hero:For Fool was that it was anything but their name: it was explosive and agile, and despite the density of Doseone's nasal rapping, Jel's exhilarating layers of sound took advantage of a different kind of density. ExitingARM, in comparison, is quite a disappointment, showing little of the dexterity of its predecessor. 'Sick Soft Perfection' exemplifies the malaise, being a muddy collage of muffled beats, mumbled lyrics and mundane sound effects, and the same could be said for several other tracks. Just as ExitingARM's best ideas are held within the mid-album trio of 'The Crow', 'Unlikely Rock Star' and 'Take to Take', so most of its soundstage is restricted to the mid-range. But perhaps its main problem is that for long stretches any hint of a melody is lost among the muddled maelstrom - in other words, Subtle have obscured their strengths to the point that their former misnomer suddenly quite suits them.