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The Ex: Starters Alternators


The Ex

Album: Starters Alternators
Label: Touch And Go

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While its fellow ideologues in Chumbawamba took the pop route to spread an Anarchist message, The Ex has taken the punk/jazz route and stuck with it for nearly 20 years. Sure, it hasn't had a hit single, and it isn't a household name, but you're not going to want to throw the radio out the window when one of its songs comes on for the thousandth time. Just don't make the mistake of confusing "punk/jazz" for "obnoxious/pretentious." Musically, The Ex is about as pretentious as The Spice Girls; its members recognize the beauty of a good hook. Okay, perhaps the hooks are played with strange Sonic Youth tunings and scraping, squawking guitar sounds set to an ever-shifting drum beat, but they're still powerful enough to get your attention. G.W. Sok's neo-Beat vocals are crisp and clipped, sounding alternately like John Lydon and John Cooper-Clarke, so there's no mistaking the political stance behind the upbeat, almost danceable songs. Engineer Steve Albini has done a good job capturing the experience of the live performance; every track hums with organic energy. The only unfortunate thing about Starters Alternators is that the rapturous, rapid-fire first song ("Frenzy") sets the bar so high that the rest of the album can't deliver quite as well. Listen to it last, and enjoy the blissfully enveloping chaos.