On your mark. Get set. Go.
That feels like the most appropriate way I could start a review about Rips, the debut album from the Washington D.C.-based Ex Hex. The album is teeming with punk energy and constantly being driven forward, never getting lost in the hazardous quagmire of guitar rock power chords. Whether it’s a rambunctious guitar riff, an unexpectedly chocked-full chorus, or the consistency of the drumming, one member of the trio is taking their turn pacing the race.
But even in Ex Hex’s punk exuberance, they aren’t afraid to embrace melody. There are well-contoured riffs, such as the one that starts “Waste Your Time” and clear blues influence on songs like “How You Got That Girl” and “Outro.” Even lead singer Mary Timony’s tone— a little Joan Jett and a little Kim Gordon, but if both of those ladies had somewhere to be—provides color in what could have become a black-and-white slog.
Indeed, there’s nothing lackadaisical or ambient about the short jabs that this record calls songs. Clocking in at just over 35 minutes for 12 songs, there isn’t a lot of time to catch your breath. And this plays to the strengths of Rips. There isn’t a ton to latch onto lyrically (case in point: “Everywhere”), but a listener is usually on the next track before they can realize any deficiency. Instead, Ex Hex is rushing you from one place to another with their mesmerizing new wave momentum. So get loose and prepare yourself. Who said running can’t be fun?