It’s Real is the second Ex Hex album from veteran guitar heroine Mary Timony. She’s been in the indie world for around 30 years, is most known for her work in Helium, along with a big solo catalog, collaborations, and as a member of Wild Flag.
The first Ex Hex album, Rips, leaned towards nervy new wave, and yes, it “ripped.” With clean production, poppy hooks and precise rock and roll chops, it sounded straight off alt radio in the mid ’80s, between the Go-Gos and Joan Jett. It’s Real stays rooted on this course, at times borrowing from heavier arena fare like Heart. Both albums have hooks galore, but this one turns the shred up to 11.
Timony’s songs remind me of Sheer Mag, both bands performing their self aware take on ’80s pop metal and radio-ready hard rock. Far from a joke though, these songs are played with joy, love and skill. Anyone in doubt that there was a female guitar goddess in the indie rock world need look no further than Mary Timony, though that should have been recognized a long time ago. If there were justice, these songs would be on the radio and young girls would be buying Squier guitars to try to do this themselves.
What’s most refreshing about the It’s Real is the overall good time feel. The quality of the songs and the musicianship speaks for themselves. Lyrically, it’s never brooding, though it’s primarily about love gone bad. Much like last year’s album from The Beths, Ex Hex shows that exceptional hooks and sunny melodies about sad subjects is a good combination.