Music | In The Middle review Ex Hex ‘Rips’

The Washington trio of Ex Hex, have a thing for sixties garage rock. Every stomping second of Rips is a loving tribute to guitar slingers past and present. The album opens with the ray-gun guitar of “Don’t Wanna Lose” which sound like what Haim would be like if they had focused on classic rock rather than RnB. Whilst “Waste Your Time” chugs away constantly with surf rock riffs over a frolicking bass line. Indeed Rips’ best moments are the medium-paced harmonious pop gems like “Waste Your Time”, “Hot and Cold” and the clap-along “How You Got That Girl”. It’s not all pop though, “Radio On” shows a bit more bite through crunching power chords, revealing Led Zeppelin might sit in their record collection next to Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys.

Yet when the pace quickens on songs like “Waterfall”, the guitar is lost in the melee and with it some of the quirk and charm that permeates through the album. Moreover, “New Kid” lyrically is strangely incongruous with the band themselves. The band is far from the “new kids in town” who “everyone is trying to knock down”. This might be their debut but the members themselves boast years of experience with previous acts, in particular Wild Flag. They also struggle at times to step out of the shadow of their previous bands, with the songs at times seeming noticeably similar. These moments are fleeting though with most songs testifying to the front-woman’s cult-following. Ex Hex and their knowingly dumb college-rock is all about fun, like label mates Superchunk, and every chord rings with their love of playing and every song leaves you with a smile. Timony’s is the story of someone who’s always been on the outskirts of success, while her Wild Flag band-mates may have more glamorous pasts, Rips shows she can more than stand on her own two feet.

Alex Fowler

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