We Are Hex Gloom Boom

[Hex Haus; 2009]

A very genuine and sincere group of pop musicians will elicit various reactions from people, depending on the stripe of the person. Indianapolis’ We Are Hex will elicit either inspiration or cringes among anyone who hears them, with vocalist Jilly Weiss’ ad-libbed ‘yeah’s and ‘woo’s and ‘hoo’s. Sometimes a band that genuine can come off as corny, forced, histrionic, or simply trying too hard. Yet We Are Hex’s more cerebral tendencies, their subtle handling of dissonance and white noise, redeems Gloom Boom’s more obnoxious shortcomings.

The band revels in dividing their sound distinctly, even within the same song. Anyone who enjoys their more varied and experimental blips throughout the LP will be disappointed by how determined the band is to make straightforward pop songs, while those who appreciate their uncanny abilities as pop composers will be bored by the hisses and spazzes throughout each song. “Easy Vision” has a synth bassline that is low and dark and fuzzy, but from there, the song becomes a typical verse-chorus-verse situation, where We Are Hex play the role of That Band. Remember those bands between, like, 2003 and 2006? The Units, Louis XIV, Franz Ferdinand, The Zutons — the bands that co-opted the sounds of their influences, mostly Wire and Gang of Four and all that shit, and were called “revival” bands by big glossy magazines that weren’t even covering that music before it was being revived. Yeah, We Are Hex become That Band within seconds, and while that bassline is a damn redeeming trait, it can’t save the song.

Sometimes, though, We Are Hex’s balancing act of ambience and noise with consonance and pop is pulled off swimmingly. A glowing example is “Noise Knot,” a short song, under two minutes, that doesn’t formally begin until about thirty seconds in. It opens with a confounded Jilly Weiss discussing the logistics of the song with her bandmates, while guitars and synth are just sort of fiddled with. From there, the song goes into an understated and soft-spoken pop vignette.

We Are Hex have a lot going for them. Whoever mics their drums is a dream, and while the drums sound so physical, what makes them even better is that drummer Brandon Beaver is actually a savvy and thoughtful percussionist, making his band’s simple and sometimes boring pop songs into something carnal and ornate. “Tired of White Nights” features Beaver at his best, avoiding two and four as a simple go-to, utilizing the hi-hats as embellishments rather than time-keepers, and using the toms as a means of sexualizing an otherwise sexless song.

Then there’s the yelping and the hooting and the hollering and the shouting. Jesus. The sincerity of these moments will cause a cynic’s eyes to be in a permanent state of rolling. I’m sure this is excellently translated live, but this type of over-showmanship is embarrassing for the listener. It happens throughout every song, and your ears can’t ignore it. It obscures the moment of head with a moment of utter body, and makes We Are Hex sound base and easy when they could be provoking and turning heads.

The cerebral and odd moments are seldom drawn out, and usually make way for what is ultimately a very normal and vanilla pop song with obvious influences in post-punk and ambient, with the two most striking exceptions being opener “Sea Hound” and closer “French Rough.” While these tracks are simply an intro and an outro, they show the promise that We Are Hex possess, leading me to believe that if their songs were more like this — sparse, taciturn, and hairy — the album would have been a patchwork quilt of unique and smoldering instrumental tracks. But I guess they don’t want to be that type of band.

1. Sea Hound
2. I N D P L S
3. Bottom of My Belly
4. Noise Knot
5. Easy Vision
6. No FM / No AM
7. Tired of White Nights
8. No Enemies
9. Serious Sedatives
10. Stay Blue, Stay Baby Blue
11. Hush
12. Loose Hearts
13. French Rough

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