Ex Hex are here to have a good time and they don’t care if anybody joins them or not.
The first album, Rips, from the trio of Mary Timony, Betsey Wright and Laura Harris is 35 minutes of white hot punk and glam-inpired rock and it’s mostly nostalgia free. Ex Hex doesn’t sound like a band that’s paying tribute.
At first, it’s hard to hear past the historic sounds, but with each listen it melts away. After a while, you don’t hear The New York Dolls or Buzzcocks. You hear Timony singing — actually singing — for the first time. You hear Write's rambunctious bass lines. You hear Harris’ razor sharp rhythms on drums (“New Kid” in particular showcases Harris as a total badass behind the kit). You start to hear a band honestly expressing their idea of fun.
“So put your war paint on and dance alone in the crowd,” they sing on “War Paint,” a song about shedding the pretenses of coolness and toughness. Rips sounds fitting for one of those 80s movie mischief montages.
Nothing sounds forced for Ex Hex. Timony’s guitar solos spontaneous and joyful. Timony could have followed the path of many 90s indie stars and reunited her old bands, but instead she’s making new music. It sounds like she’s following her heart.
When it comes to rock music, fun for fun’s sake is under appreciated. Thoughtfulness, reflection, cleverness and all those other more respectable feelings often feel required, but on Rips Ex Hex distills fun down to its purest form and proves that fun is a worthy pursuit in and of itself.
Ex Hex will play The Pinhook on November 7 with Speedy Ortiz. Tickets are $12 in advance.