Fire Note Says: So much style, it doesn’t need flare.
Album Review: This album is odd, for a couple of different reasons. First of all is its mellow mood. In a world filled with high-energy indie rock, Ex Cops presents a simple, quiet record. Many of the vocal lines are done in a very low register; the drums are mixed very quietly; the guitar lines are minimalist and softly picked over the rhythm section. The other thing about the album that I find odd are its melodies. It’s like they’re pulled straight from The Beatles’ back catalog. Very 1960s-style, and mixed with the same sort of fuzziness that you get on older album pressings. “Spring Break” especially calls to mind 60s tunes; it’s got that sort of “lazing-around-on-the-beach-in-the-summer” feel that I get from 60s pop-rock groups like the Beach Boys and The Kinks.
Here’s what I like about the record: At no point in its duration did I feel like the band was trying to say “Hey, look at us! Do you hear how good we are?” There were no attempts to be flashy and they didn’t do anything over-the-top. As I said before, the album is largely a minimalist construct. I loved the guitar work on it for this reason. The rhythm and lead guitar parts both offered accents for each song, rather than building the song around the guitar riffs. It reminded me a lot of the feeling I get while listening to U2’s “The Joshua Tree;” a sort of big, ambient sound.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the record: it’s pretty flat. There isn’t a lot of dynamic shift to it. “Ken” and “Billy Pressly” are pretty up-tempo tracks, but most of the rest of the record keep the same slow pacing. None of the songs really explode into their choruses, but instead sort of flow into them. Even “Separator,” the track that feels most like a single, maintains a pretty even keel through its entirety, though its vocal lines are different than most of the others.
Do these cons outweigh the pros? Absolutely not. True Hallucinations is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, especially if you’re trying to wind down and relax. It probably won’t knock your socks off but, since I don’t think that was the intent, it will certainly make you smile.
Key Tracks: “You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb”, “Separator”, “The Millionaire”
Artists With Similar Fire: Lightships / Mimicking Birds / Stabbing Westward
Ex Cops Website
Ex Cops Facebook
Fat Possum Records
-Reviewed by Christian Yates