Ex Hex: It’s Real review – a lacklustre follow-up

(Merge)

One of the standout debuts of 2014, Ex Hex’s Rips was a joyful homage to late-70s/early-80s power-pop, most notably Cheap Trick and the Runaways. It also served as a good showcase for the talents of guitarist Mary Timony, once of Helium and fleetingly brilliant indie supergroup Wild Flag. The follow-up, long in gestation, fails to reach the same heights.

On the surface, nothing much has changed: Timony is backed once more by Betsy Wright (bass) and Laura Harris (drums), producer Jonah Takagi is on board again, their reference points are largely the same. It’s just that whereas the songs on Rips sparkled, here they’re just a little lacklustre by comparison. Opener Tough Enough is a case in point. It begins with a muscular, chugging riff and features an elegant yet unshowy guitar solo, but without much in the way of a chorus, it fails to really go anywhere. The swaggering hard rock of Rainbow Shiner is more convincing, as is the upbeat Radiate, even if its intro sails a little close to Gang of Four’s Glass. But the ponderous Another Dimension makes for a worryingly inessential five minutes, and too much of the rest is polite rather than unapologetically fun. For a new band, this would be a perfectly serviceable debut, but with Ex Hex having flown so high previously, It’s Real is a disappointment.

Watch the video for Cosmic Cave by Ex Hex.

Contributor

Phil Mongredien

The GuardianTramp

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