On 2003's Inertia, the Exies blended brash, grime, slick, and hook for a 21st century take on Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots. Head for the Door is their second effort for Virgin, and it leaves the formula largely unchanged. Openers "Slow Drain" and "Splinter" offer grimy, ascending guitar leads as guides for Scott Stevens' Cobain-derived rasp, and "Ugly," "My Opinion," and "What You Deserve" carry the formula through deliberately. Lyrically, Stevens is as self-possessed and bitter as any post-grunge frontman. "Are you like me, are you ugly," he sings in the lead single; "I'm to blame, and that's what really hurts," he spits later. "Baptize Me" is equally selfish/searching, intercutting generalized religious imagery with a "need to know just why/You were my meaning." The Exies always find a hard-hitting chorus on which to hang Stevens' angst. And top-shelf mixing ensures that Head for the Door's quiet/loud dynamics will hit with fervor and the record's generally claustrophobic mood will be heightened by a steely production sheen. There isn't a lot of resolution in the Exies' vague anger. But the red streak of jaded rage is alive and well. [The album was also issued in a clean version.] ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi

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