Review Summary: Ever hung out around an abandoned construction site?ii
I don’t believe myself to be anything close to a musical expert. I adore many genres, but if you asked me to describe them I would have most likely just vaguely jumped around and eventually tried to sway the dialogue elsewhere. I enjoy many artists, but would probably be incapable to point out their characteristic traits beyond something like “a unique voice, fun bass, and clattering drums” and all that. I know I know them and I know I can recognise them, but it takes a long time for me to find the proper words to describe them in a way that sounds believable and plausible. And much like that I can hardly determine something as favourite or “the best”.
I described this album as my favourite The Ex album on multiple occasions, but I believe it merely symbolically. I believe it to have the easiest to get into music, I believe it to have some of their catchiest tracks, I believe it to have some of their most intriguing production and I believe it to have the most carefully crafted flow. I reference it as my favourite merely because it is the easiest one to call that. Do I perhaps listen to it more than their other work？ Not really. If I were to use these criteria on some songs, is it more likely that the song that were to wind up on top of that list would be from this album？ I don’t know, it might be. The thing is, I just love this album. Nothing more, nothing less.
It throws you right into the action with the opener “Headache by Numbers”, which has driving bass and drums and the band’s usual ruthless production that feels like a hit in the head with a concrete brick. It devolves and devolves with its detached vocals, increasingly more aggressive instrumentation and disorienting sound. And while the following cut, “Fashionation”, seems to have more of a relaxed, funky, jerky, jumpy instrumentation, the song fairly quickly turns just as demonic and industrially frantic. And that should teach you a lesson about this album, it is abrasive and ugly at every turn, but it does it with such a level of enthusiasm that you cannot help but enjoy it. The repetition of “2.2”, the progression of “Carcass”, the almost mocking comedy of “Welcome to the Asylum”, the utter chaos of “Meanwhile at McDonna’s”, the almost straightforward punk inklings of “Shooting Party”, the pure industrial influences of “Evolution (？)”, the long trippyness of “A Motorbike in Afrika” and the abrasive and baleful closer “Godgloeiendeteringklootzak”.
might be the quintessential, textbook exemplary The Ex album, or it might be their most by-the-numbers unimaginative watershed. It might be your most nightmarish listen that fills your life with despair and disgust, or it might just be plain annoying and uncomfortable to sit through. It might be a great way to start your noise rock journey, or it might ruin the whole genre for you. I struggle and I struggle and struggle to determine where this album sits in the history of music, The Ex catalogue, my preferences and your potential enjoyment. But I suppose you can only find out by listening. So go on, you little rascal, I know you want to.