xex - group:xex
I’ve been trying to think of something intelligent to say about New Jersey’s xex for a while now, but whenever I try it always comes out as a silly aphorism or one-liner. Something about their demented, destroyed electro lends itself more to individual lines than coherent, well though paragraphs. This probably is a result of the lyrics, which are clipped and silly and don’t really need to be deconstructed to understood. When they use limericks to talk about a possible Soviet nerve gas attack, they are in fact talking in limericks about a possible Soviet nerve gas attack. There is probably some element of parody there, a kind of post-Perestroika, pre-Reagan black humor (this music was recorded in 1980 after all) that is making fun of the mere possibility, but I doubt it. The vocal stylings add to this, a combination of Devo’s choppy delivery and the kind of inside-out melodies and alternately male-female singing from early B-52s records. Don’t get me wrong, there is definite social commentary at play in here, as in “Fashion Hurts,” which any girl could probably relate to, and the dark “Cops” that is a pretty straightforward rethinking of 1984
. “Cops” is also a good place to segue into talk of the actual music. What’s so incredible about this record is that it sounds much more attune with neue deutsche welle than anything going on on this side of the Atlantic. I mean, you could see this as a logical next step from Q: Are We Not Men
or the Screamers, but the connection is definitely more tenuous than, say, DAF or Liaisons Dangereuses. I guess this could also be the fallout (or perhaps pre-history) of much of the New York downtown not-disco scene (I do hear connections between this and Madonna’s first recorded appearance with Otto Von Wernherr from around this same time) or perhaps some early Sugar Hill records (Afrika Bambaataa comes to mind). But this is all speculation. Regardless, the combination of drum machines and synthesizers is just right, with bouncy and unsettling lines that make you want to dance but also cower in fear of the impending nano-machine takeover.