It’s morning in America! Mary Timony’s new record is finally out! Long time fans may find it strange that Ex Hex is being released on Lookout! Records, given that Mary’s last 10 years of music making have been primarily released on Matador. To be honest, though, the label switch is rather appropriate, considering what Ex Hex is.
This album is a return to the rockin’ side of Mary Timony, a side that hasn’t been seen much on her first two solo albums. And when I say it’s rockin’, I mean that it rocks more than anything she’s done since the Pirate Prude EP. The music is much more driven and forward-moving than the spacey stuff of early Helium. Devin Campo of The Medications plays drums on this album, and he is a truly talented drummer who deftly wraps his beats around Mary’s angular, off-kilter guitar riffs. The incredibly powerful and melodic “Return to Pirates” exhibits this chemistry between the two perfectly. Mary’s curiously majestic guitar lines scamper around, while Campo hits various drums, ending with cymbal crashes at the end of each line. Then the completely victorious chorus explodes. It’s one of the most triumphant sounding choruses that Mary has ever put to tape — and it is so catchy! I thank Campo for helping to create such a gorgeous song.
Campo and Timony can’t take all of the credit for Mary’s incredible sound on this album. Fugazi’s Brendan Canty recorded Ex Hex, and he seems to have made sure that the drums were not buried under Mary’s famously intriguing guitars. Simply put, never have the drums on any of Mary Timony’s previous albums been so prominent. I must admit, I really like the hard(er)-hitting Mary Timony. It gives her majesty a welcome bit of aggression.
What hasn’t changed is Mary’s flair for symbolism and irony; although, she now appears to be happy. Timony fans of old will observe that there are no black ravens mentioned here. Instead she notes that she “wants to be in the garden of love, led by a lamb and a little white dove.” Another happy bit from is from “Friend to J.C”: “Well, things are pretty good, because they’re not bad enough to be called bad.” Mary has seemingly rid herself of the demons that surrounded her while making 2002’s The Golden Dove. There is very little gloom, and plenty of celebration. These words from “W.O.W.” are pretty telling of her current state of mind: “‘Do you think that you are sick/No I am not sick/Once I was dying and then I talked to you/now the seasons grow and the trees are in bloom.” It’s nice to hear that life is better for Mary.
Lookout! Records: www.lookoutrecords.com