EX OH is the moniker of The Blam’s Jerry Adler – a songwriter who came out of the same NYC scene of the early 200s that spawned The Stokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol. He’s now released the self-titled debut album of this project via Team Love Records.
The record opens with ‘Love and War’, a short and sweet Brendan Benson-esque piece about how quickly things can turn nasty in all kinds of situations: ‘After a while I got used to losing, wearing make up just to hide the bruises’. This is followed by the slow-burning – albeit with thunderous drums – ‘Like We Used To’. It’s a song that finds Jerry desperately trying to rekindle a relationship: ‘You can put your trust in me. I won’t break it’. ‘More Of’ moves into a more boisterous baroque pop sound as Jerry urges the subject to let the daylight in to lighten their mood: ‘You might have waves of depression and sorrow and start to feel broken. Let the sunshine break through’.
‘Nothing Something’ continues in this theatrical vein as he urges people to ‘remember the love’: ‘When your tears and fears are a flood and the world is rushing by and the good things don’t seem like enough… Hold on to a friend’. ‘Here or There’ acts as an interlude while ‘Money Money’ captures the paranoia that being able to pay the bills on time brings – and how this is what drives so much of society. It finishes with a robotoic voice talking through a list of jobs from ‘sewing gloves’ to ‘driving a bus’.
Falling somewhere between Cake and They Might Be Giants, ‘Here We Go’ follows this route by focusing on where Jerry feels most comfortable – in his own room where he can ‘escape the pressures’, while the penultimate ‘(Let’s Not Forget About) Harmony’ is an upbeat piece of indie pop with a message the whole world could learn from: ‘We can’t live without honesty but let’s not forget about harmony’; ‘We don’t have to be cruel, just kind’. The closing ‘Molecules’ is more electronic and experimental as Jerry’s distorted words about travelling through time and space are given a futuristic sheen.
Delving into art pop sounds and the piano-based melodies favoured by Rufus Wainwright or Ben Folds – while never forgetting important messages about looking after mental health – the EX OH record is one you’ll want to celebrate.