Review Summary: An amazing pop album disguised as a great indie rock record.
Sometimes, it’s nice to hear exactly what you want. It’s why beautiful women call themselves ugly – it’s nice to, every once and a while, hear someone acknowledge or compliment what you’re proud of. Pop artists spend their careers making music that people want to hear, but that focus often hampers artistic merit or innovation. On the other hand, many experimental, ambitious musicians spend their careers running a gamut of hit-and-miss ideas that can be easier to appreciate than to enjoy. Both sides of the coin can be endlessly frustrating. That’s where True Hallucinations comes in.
Ex Cops are a male-female duo who manage, on their debut album nonetheless, to get the best of both worlds. The album starts off with a rather strange thumping intro with a simple epic drum machine beat, ah-ing vocals, and a straightforward but still powerful guitar line. After the intro, it’s one pop tune after another, a cascade of friendly choruses and interesting verses spared cringe worthy lyrics and overproduction. The production and songwriting run the gamut chugging Velvet Underground fuzz to Girls guitar jangle-pop to R.E.M. wandering guitar lines. Track after track new ideas are reeled off and ended before any one song has the chance to become boring. Every indie rock trick of the trade is used on this album to great effect, and not a second of True Hallucinations’ brief thirty-minute running time is spent badly. Even more impressive, the wide range of styles and structures Ex Cops uses results in 11 completely unique tracks. Songs simply do not blur or get mixed up on this album.
Is True Hallucinations derivative? Maybe. Nothing here sounds shocking or original; there simply is no groundbreaking songwriting and the surprise factor is gone after the album’s intro. But for the average indie-rock fan, there’s a treasure trove of songs here, whether in the Cults-esque major chord chatter that ends “Separator,” the beautiful chillwave-balladry of The Millionaire, or the downright infectious and optimistic chorus of Billy Pressley.
The truth is, True Hallucinations is catchy, varied, and consistent in its quality. So treat yourself and listen to a record that gives that indie-pop loving part of your brain exactly what it wants.