Ex Cops – “True Hallucinations” (2013, Other Music)
Reviewer: Matt Sanderlin
Debut albums are tricky. Too much emphasis on a particular “sound” can leave a young band’s first album hollow and pretentious, and not enough emphasis can lead to the band being instantly discarded for lack of originality.
The members of Ex Cops seem to know this, and have somehow found a perfect balance between a unique sound and quality songwriting for their debut, True Hallucinations.
While the band’s overarching influences range from My Bloody Valentine to the Smiths, the variety they offer track to track is surprising and impressive. Early-album, late-night sprawler “Ken” kicks off like a Pains of Being Pure at Heart anthem on steroids — buzzing and bubbling, building and bursting — Though, it is then immediately followed by a pillowy romp through Loveless territory (“James”) — effortlessly moving into a blissful 3rd gear, and seamlessly finding traction in an up-tempo trot that will arrest your heartbeat and refuse to let go for its 3 minute entirety.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. Mid-album home runs like the dream-inducing “Separator” and the jangly, blues-infused “Spring Break (Birthday Song)” further solidify the band’s knack for colorful melodies and mesmerizing textures with elegant ease. Best of all are late-album secret weapons “The Millionaire” and “Billy Pressly.” The harmonies melt over the arrangements like powdered sugar into light cream in the former, and the percussion rattles like a truck motor on a sweltering summer day in the latter. Together, this pair of stellar compositions officially authenticates Ex Cops’s well-built initial collection of songs.
Admittedly, the album does hit a few dull notes toward the very end of its run; but overall, True Hallucinations is a very promising first album from a very talented new band. May the perfect balance find you once again in many years and albums to come.