Ex Models

Zoo Psychology

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It's art-punk, or music to sweat through your pointy lapels to, or whatever they're calling this gripping glue-sniffing stuff in the cooler 'burgs of NYC right now. Ex Models stab hype in the eye with Zoo Psychology (French Kiss), their sophomore full-length, and end up sounding like Brainiac if they would've recorded an album of Sonic Youth and Nation of Ulysses covers. "Fuck to the Music," "Brand New Panties," "Kool Killer" -- not only did they take home the blue ribbon at the Awesome Song Title World Championships, Ex Models also wisely compress their disjointed yelp-skronk into laughably concise one and two-minute segments. They seem to understand that bowed chest vocal histrionics, atonal guitar chaos, and martial percussion stamping -- no matter how "New York" or art school it may be -- can still make listeners start wishing for an old soul record, a ska band, or anything that will make the ridiculousness stop. Zoo Psychology succeeds because it reigns in the more extreme tendencies of such music. It constricts weirdness around damaged disco rhythms ("Zoo Love"), deconstructs post-punk down to the sound of one guitar and the space between its notes ("Pink Noise"), and renders the right to go bananas downright pogo-worthy ("Hey Boner"), all without losing an iota of outsider cool cred. What do you know? It turns out you can pretend to have your cake and almost eat-it-but-not-really, too.

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