Hendrick doesn't sound like it's setting out to change the world on its latest full-length, Exhale, nor does the band even indicate that it's necessarily trying to do anything of the sort. Rather, this sophomore release seems to be more about simpler conveyance: moving listeners emotionally.

What Hendrick does especially well here is offer a polarized combination of tone. First, soothing, melatonin-sunrise serenity, with wavering, Buckley-esque vocals—fit for, say, a hot bath, or morning coffee at a mountainside cabin. Then, a quick right, with sharper teeth. Hendrick works this dichotomy well, and the key to this success is the disc's above-average timing, which, within the context of each song, cross-pollinates a fragile vocal style with a brighter musical mood.

The result is a journey that still has plenty of mileage ahead; whether the band ever reaches its destinations could be debated, but its progress is undeniable. On standout songs such as the epic "Licked," and the colossal, nearly eight-minute "Echo and The Pass," this formula works especially well. Elsewhere, the journey may need a little more travelling, but it's clear that Hendrick is already pointed in the right direction.

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Alan Ayo

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