Ex Cops – [Album]

Ex Cops – [Album]

Wednesday, 12 August 2015
ARTIST: Ex Cops – [Album]
with free mp3 download for ‘Black Soap’ from Daggers by Ex Cops
DATE: 08-12-15
REVIEW BY: Bill Adams
ALBUM: Daggers
LABEL: Downtown/Fontana North/Universal Music

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It might seem a little dubious but, in listening to Ex Cops’ sophomore album (and also keeping the band’s sensational 2012 debut in mind), it’s hard not to feel as though the band is earnestly trying to establish some roots by rebuilding the progression of punk’s development into new wave in the Eighties, but also using themselves and their sensibilities as a template for it. That might sound confusing, but think about it: on True Hallucinations, Ex Cops managed to bank off of both the original punks of the Seventies as well as the alt-rock bands of the Pacific northwest in the Nineties because the band was a little raw, a little untested and fairly green but brave. It worked, the band found fans. Now, with that base beneath them, Ex Cops have ambitiously begun to refine their muse with the confidence that the success of their first album gave them in hand.

As soon as “Black Soap” opens Daggers, fans who were won by True Hallucinations will be able to mark the difference between Ex Cops’ albums. There, the melancholy but aggressive tenor of True Hallucinations has largely been replaced by a lush wall of woozy synths and, when the dual vocal performance of Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding begins a few bars in, the result is like the first shafts of light cutting through a cloud at the end of a vicious storm. When it hits listeners, on cue, the cloud clears completely and suddenly the sun is allowed to just pour both into and out of the mix. It’s incredible – and the difference is as simple as Daggers being the light to True Hallucinations‘ dark.

The aural light which brightens “Black Soap” consistently brightens each of the other ten tracks onDaggers but, after the initial surprise of the difference fades, listeners will begin to notice what devices Ex Cops utilize throughout the album in order to add just a bit of an edge to the proceedings. On “Teenagers,” for example, there is plenty of new wave-y, candy rock sheen about the song, but co-singer Amalie Bruun just can’t resist throwing the going ever-so-slightly off-kilter; listeners can almost hear the singer smirking when she delivers the lines, “We could go all night/and never get it right/like teenagers/We could start a war/because we’re insecure/like teenagers, baby.” That sort of smarm picks up again in “Pretty Shitty” (which really does sound like the best Liz Phair song that Liz Phair didn’t write – with lines like “How could you be so shitty/to a girl so pretty?”) and the LP-colored Wanna Be” (which sounds about as much like a new Bangles song as it’s possible to find in 2015) to make sure listeners remember that, not so long ago, Ex Cops were closer to a rock band than a pop band. Even as good as the rock tracks here are though, that side of the record definitely takes a backseat to the fine, sugary side expressed by songs like “Tragically Alright,” “Modern World” and “Rooms”; in each of those cases, Ex Cops present themselves with a desire to be a vintage new wave band without apology.

But might apologies be necessary? Well, because Ex Cops first found a fan base with some much shadier indie/punk tones, some fans will certainly be turned off by Daggers – but not all of them. Even those who weren’t fans of new wave in the first place might not be totally put off; some fans may reason that, if True Hallucinations was the dark end of Ex Cops’ spectrum, Daggersrepresents the polar opposite extreme. With that established now, Ex Cops has an enormous expanse of sounds to explore and develop on their next album; it’ll be interesting to see how and where the band ends up next.



Ex Cops – Daggers – “Black Soap” – [mp3]

Further Reading:
Ground Control Magazine
– Ex Cops – True Hallucinations[CD review]

Daggers is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .


Ex Cops – [Album]

Saturday, 29 December 2012

There are few things in the music spectrum more attractive than a band with a really, really melancholy and introspective demeanor who makes lush, beautiful and guitar-driven pop music. Those rock fans who have happened upon such groups have been both cursing and celebrating them for decades; bands like The Smiths, The Cure, The Screaming Trees and The Lemonheads have been baring their broken hearts and bruised souls for years and had it lapped up gratefully by fans – and those are only the first who leap to mind – there are legions more. There's something in a warm sentiment exchanged between a band and its fans which can make fans for life of those who just happen to be in the right place emotionally at the right time and make icons of those who wrote and recorded it.

Artists who manage to pen marvelously accessible anthems often find themselves lucky enough to enjoy a legendary, celebrated status in the annals of rock history. Names like those dropped above are revered and respected and deservedly so – and one listen to True Hallucinations will have many listeners etching Ex Cops' name on that venerable list as well.

Ex Cops will immediately command the interest of those who happen upon their debut full-length from the moment the shambling drum sample which opens “S&HSXX” launches and rewrites a few bodily rhythms before falling neatly into some vintage keyboard vamps a la Flaming Lips and making a few jaws drop at the mercurial progression of it all. Without trying to sound trite, there are beginnings and then there are beginnings; the rock solid sounds of this intro grabs listeners by the ears and holds them tight. That beat is of the sort which is undeniable for anyone who loves Mule Variations-era Tom Waits. Ex Cops have it here, and they deliver it with a precision which rivals that of far more seasoned bands on their third and fourth albums. It's awesome.

Happily, the power expressed in “S&HSXX” never falters during the ten songs which follow it.

The guitar-driven indie pop strains running through True Hallucinations begin to betray some gold coloring from the moment “Ken” picks up the momentum set by “S&HSXX” and then pushes it to move a little faster and harder. Here, co-singer and rhythm guitarist Brian Harding (now freed from his obligations in Hymns) introduces a brilliant shade of Brit Pop to the mix as he croons like Ian Brown but rocks his guitar like Graham Coxon and forces drummer Sam Bair, bassist Leif Huckman and lead guitarist Kai Kennedy to start running if they want to keep up. That brisk pace endures  and sees the band's fortunes get even brighter as songs like “James” and “You Are A Lion I Am A Lamb” lock the band into an awesome groove before breaking for a bit of believable beach blanket bingo on “Spring Break,” where Ex Cops' “other” singer, Amalie Bruun (formerly of Minks) begins to offer more than just a bit of backup color and starts to factor into the album's running a bit more notably.

Many bands could call it a day after the tremors of “Spring Break” fade out. The first half of True Hallucinations could have easily been called a better-than-respectable EP, and left at that, but Ex Cops aren't every other band. They prove that handily when they wind up and start throwing even better and more ambitious thrills at listeners on the second half of True Hallucinations.

Right off on the second side, “Jazz & Information” lumbers up to blow a few minds with a great baritone sax solo included, and then “Nico Beats” and “The Millionaire” seal the deal to guarantee that at least a few listeners will start on the B-side on their second and third listens to the record. By the time “Broken Chinese Chairz” punches through to close the album, listeners will find themselves hoping there will be more – a hidden song, anything – to come at record's end.

There is no way to argue that True Hallucinations isn't an excellent introduction to Ex Cops. While it would be easy enough to project what the album might be lacking (“There should be a few more adventurous melodies with two singers!” or “There's no runaway single in this run-time!” would be easy qualms to make), but such arguments go limp when one remembers that this is Ex Cops' debut album; it is the first foothold from which the band will be able to expand, and this album is ripe with possibilities. It'll be interesting to see what Ex Cops choose to explore on their next outing – here's hoping that we won't have to wait too long to find out.




Ex Cops – "James" – True Hallucinations
Ex Cops – "The Millionaire" – White Women EP
Ex Cops – "Spring Break (Birthday Song)" – White Women EP
Ex Cops – "You Are A Lion I Am A Lamb (Original Dram Session)" – White Women EP
Ex Cops – "Broken Chinese Chairz" – White Women EP
Ex Cops – "S&SHXX" – White Women EP


True Hallucinations will be released by Other Music Recording Company/Fat Possum on January 22, 2013. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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