Hex

Hex

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The first Hex effort somehow gets the mood right from the start, that lovely end-of-the-'80s psych-pop/indie or whatever groove that had defined much of the underground music of that era. Given the participants' background in the Church and Game Theory, that's hardly a surprise, but it's lovely to hear how well they go together, Thayer's voice just tripped out and intoxicating enough, Kilbey's arrangements suiting the mood well. Aside from a guest drum turn on one song, the two create everything themselves and do a lovely job. If the percussion throughout is electronic, it certainly sounds less stiff and out of place than on some of the early Church recordings, so credit goes to Kilbey there. The use of keyboards also deserves note: gothy/new wave synth lines made into darkly elegant swells of sound (check out "Mercury Towers" for a fine example). Other musicians, like Heidi Berry and the Moon Seven Times, could almost be said to have taken tips from the results, because there's the same rainy/sunny rural-afternoon glaze throughout Hex, a wonderful way to spend some time with music. Of the high points, "Ethereal Message" is clearly a pinnacle; not as gauzy as the title might imply, it's a low-key epic that feels and sounds like a building climb into the sky, the combination of backward guitars and steady pace the perfect bed for Thayer's vocal prowess. That the two can call a song "Hermaphrodite" but have it sound like a fragile, echo-heavy ballad rather than a glam rock strut is but part of the overall charm. Every so often things turn a bit more pedestrian -- "In the Net," one great solo from Kilbey aside, is too mannered to really work -- but overall, Hex is an underrated keeper.

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