Ex-Cult, Negative Growth (In the Red, 9/23/2016)
We love Ex-Cult, so word of new music from them is always welcome. In this case, that news comes in the form of a fantastic new album, “Negative Growth”. Working again with producer Ty Segall (he worked on their self-titled debut, and Ex-Cult singer Chris Shaw fronts one of Segall’s many (many) side projects, Gøggs), the album powers and moves just like you want an Ex-Cult record to, but also showcases some newer tricks.
Previously shared tracks, “Attention Ritual” and “Let You In”, set the tone pre-release. Both are furious reminders of the band’s punk/hardcore side, each swooping like a Crimson Ghost for the throat. Shaw continues to possess some of the best punk pipes out there, his hoarse (read, not “hoarsely”) cries imbuing these new tracks with the same shadings of rage, confusion and angst as on earlier releases.
Where things get even more interesting is where the band stray a bit, rhythmically and vocally, from the punk foundation. Lead track, “Mr. Investigator” begins with an almost Devo-like spazzy new wave beat – and if the title sounds, to you, like something from The Fall (and it does to us), listen to Shaw channeling Mark E. Smith in his intonation, particularly during the chorus. “Dogs Roll In” (which also featured on the “Stick the Knife In” single) and “Panic In Pig Park” both feature a bit of cow-punk guitar twang, and the noise breakdown during the middle and end of the latter adds to the frantic tension. “Hollywood Heatseeker” positively swings, while closer, “New Face On”, is a riotous conflagration of punk, no wave, death rock and just good ol’ noise in the tradition of bands like The Birthday Party, and includes a positively Stoogesian saxophone squawk, courtesy of Ty Segall Band member Mikal Cronin. With Segall at the decks, the heavy superfuzz cream is turned to 11 – the only exception seemingly the snare, which snaps and spits insistently from underneath, like the shiny flecks in a piece of coal.
As with other Ex-Cult output, it’s as much about the energy as anything else – you can almost feel the band collapse on the studio floor at the end of each track. It’s infectious, and it continues to make Ex-Cult one of the best bands out there today doing what they do. Thrilling.
Highlights include: “Let You In”, “Hollywood Heatseeker”, “New Face On”, “Panic In Pig Park”.