Since their classic 1980 debut, Los Angeles punk influencers X have mastered the perfect fusion of catchy melodies, iconic riffs and vocal harmonies between front singer-poet Exene Cervenka and bassist (and Exene’s former husband) John Doe.
From the earliest notes of “Alphabetland”—the up-tempo title track of the band’s first album with all founding members since 1985—the formula is intact.
A youthful feeling is everywhere. The song “Water & Wine” is definitely my favorite, possibly because X have said it was inspired by one of their (and my) favorite current bands, Shannon & The Clams.
Still, the more I listen to this album, I do miss a bit the punkish spirit and attitude the band carried back in the day. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the members of X have made an album that hones in on the sound of punk in the ‘90s and early 2000s. Even though the lyrics still are very X, it lacks a bit of the nerve that I was hoping for.
What I do like about this album is that Exene’s voice remains flawless and like it did in the old days, which is what brings a lot of energy to an album that makes me think back to my own adolescence.
While I won’t call it a masterpiece, ALPHABETLAND is a welcome reunion album from a still underrated band.
Score: ✖️✖️✖️ / 5