One of the standout debuts of 2014, Ex Hex’s Rips was a joyful homage to late-70s/early-80s power-pop, most notably Low cost Trick and the Runaways. It additionally served as showcase for the skills of guitarist Mary Timony, as soon as of Helium and fleetingly sensible indie supergroup Wild Flag. The follow-up, lengthy in gestation, fails to succeed in the identical heights.
On the floor, nothing a lot has modified: Timony is backed as soon as extra by Betsy Wright (bass) and Laura Harris (drums), producer Jonah Takagi is on board once more, their reference factors are largely the identical. It’s simply that whereas the songs on Rips sparkled, right here they’re just a bit lacklustre by comparability. Opener Robust Sufficient is a working example. It begins with a muscular, chugging riff and options a sublime but unshowy guitar solo, however with out a lot in the best way of a refrain, it fails to essentially go anyplace. The swaggering laborious rock of Rainbow Shiner is extra convincing, as is the upbeat Radiate, even when its intro sails a little bit near Gang of 4’s Glass. However the ponderous One other Dimension makes for a worryingly inessential 5 minutes, and an excessive amount of of the remainder is well mannered somewhat than unapologetically enjoyable. For a brand new band, this might be a wonderfully serviceable debut, however with Ex Hex having flown so excessive beforehand, It’s Actual is a disappointment.