Cecil Frena, the sonic architect behind Born Gold, has released his most direct work to date in I Am an Exit. Not only are his vocals more defined in the mix but there seems to be a direct attempt to build upon the warped-pop sensibilities of 2011’s Bodysongs, as opposed to the atmospheric tone that characterized last year’s Little Sleepwalker.

That’s not to say that Frena’s penchant for experimentation has been diluted. “Hunger,” for example, is in turns catchy and puzzling in its clanging beats and distorted-horn synths. Refined would be the best way to describe Frena’s approach on this record, as tracks like “Clever Animals” and “Strange Wind” are built more on his vocal melodies than on cumbersome layering. “Butcher” is one of Born Gold’s most emotional songs to date, sparse in comparison to the majority of the record as a mournful piano line and tasteful sampling composes the bulk of the track’s musical accompaniment. I Am an Exit could be a more consistent record, but it marks a step forward for a rising star in Canadian electronic music.

By James Olson

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