Not only does it hold together, it also comes off as his loudest and most energetic album to date. Tracks like "Bitter Ends" and "Paper Boats" show the heavy influence of grunge, with hammering beats and mammoth guitar swells, and "Canadian Shield" builds ominously like Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper" into a pissed-off ode to the Canadian heartland. Even on the quieter tracks, like "Running From the Cops" and "Enterprise," McGrath's voice nearly overdrives his mic as he strums his guitar like a punk artist who forgot his amp.
McGrath's music might be too rough for some, but that's more a testament to the limits of certain genres than any shortcomings on his part. Where's the hard boiled, gritty rock/country music of today? Where's the punk-infused folk music? Where are the angry, young, drunk voices singing about escaping their shitty hometown, and not worrying about whether they sound radio friendly or not? McGrath is abrasive on Exile, and anyone turned off by that should give him a second chance. He has something to say and he's screaming it at the top of his lungs and bashing it out on his guitar. Underneath the sludge and smoke is one of the most profound voices in Canadian music. (Aporia)