Ex Cops

True Hallucinations

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Judging from the way they weave together sounds and styles from various eras into one tuneful, dreamily sweet package on their debut album True Hallucinations, one can only assume Ex Cops are head-of-the-class-level students of pop music history. A casual trip through the record’s 11 songs reveals influences taken from some of the most inspired and inspiring music of the past 50 years, from the jaunty punch of the Velvet Underground at their poppiest and the choppy strum of Flying Nun bands like the Bats, to the gauzy haze of '90s shoegaze and synthy atmospheres of Factory Records -- they only borrow from the best. Along with these classic touchstones of modern indie rock, the group throws in some nice bits of '50s pop (on the utterly charming “Spring Break (Birthday Song)”) some gritty Spacemen 3 style psych (“Jazz & Information”), and early Feelies-sounding jangle (“Billy Pressley”) to keep the trainspotters on their toes. On paper, all these influences might seem overwhelming, but the group, and especially chief songwriter Brian Harding and producer John Siket, weave them into a sound that is more informed by the past than it is beholden to it. Basically, they are able to rise above their influences by writing songs so catchy and so nice sounding that it wouldn’t matter much if they copied the Chills' (for one example) songbook note for note. The recording of the songs is so warm and enveloping, Harding and Amalie Bruun's vocal harmonies are so rich, and the songs are so darn upbeat (and memorable on first listen) that the album hits you in the gut, heart, and brain like only the best pop music can. Listeners who like a little darkness mixed into their sound may come away with a sugar-induced toothache, but for anyone who likes their pop music delivered with a honey smacked smile, heaven! True Hallucinations is an impressive debut and one of the purest, most innocent-sounding pop records anyone is likely to make in the ironic, convoluted era in which they exist.

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