Reviews Ex Friends Rules for Making Up Words

Ex Friends

Rules for Making Up Words

Ex Friends are a group of Philly area punks, recognized from their work in other bands. The band features Joel Tannenbaum (Plow United), JP Flexner (flyer artist), Audrey Crash, and Jayme Guokas. On their debut full-length, Rules for Making Up Words, they don’t let those previous associations get in the way, though; they embrace them. The project sounds like the sum of its parts, with Tannenbaum’s vocals and familiar lyricism leading the charge.

Tannenbaum carries the largest stamp on Ex Friends, with the direct lyricism and his familiar voice and delivery. It’s very similar to Plow United except, you got it, for the music, which is more varied than his pop punk band’s structures tend to be. There’s a lot of stylistic variation on Making Up Words, all with a steady backdrop of Plow United-style 4/4 pop punk but with different chord variations and influence that carries the general sway of the songs. In “The Middle of Nowhere” they push the bass up front and in “Rainy Season” they slow it down (a touch) to where the melodies remind of Nato Coles midtempo melodicism focus. Overall, though, it’s caffeinated and opinionated. The vocal tradeoffs work really well.

The lyrics steal the show with this record, taking a repetitive chorus structure and direct lyrics about issues like sexism, police brutality, consumerism, and a whole lot more. It’s preach to the choir punk that gets jingoistic, for example in one of the catchiest songs on the record, “Sympathy for the Sociopath,” which bears the blunt refrain of “cops crack skulls/ cops crack skulls.” It’s the kind of punk record that uses words like “capitalism” and “bourgeoisie” mid-song without caring how heavy-handed it may come across. It’s really solid singalong punk, but it’s also overly preachy and loses some of the fun that the bouncy rhythms establish. While I like a healthy dose of politics in my music (more than the average listener I’m pretty sure), I also prefer a little less finger wagging.

Anyway, Ex Friends has released a fun record here. It just gets a wears a little bit over the course of 14 songs.

7.1 / 10Loren
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Tor Johnson Records
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7.1 / 10

7.1 / 10

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