Forever associated with Brett Easton Ellis novels in my mind, X really beat my prejudice with the whirring stick. Los Angeles provides fairly simplistic music–rather obviously punk and unconcerned with much. But, it’s really, really, good. Somewhere between a West Coast Raw Power and an American Never Mind the Bollocks, few albums sound this seamlessly ramshackle. Doe’s bass, Zoom’s guitar, Cervenka’s yelp—it could all have been picked from a bargain bin at Amoeba. Suitable sounds when the greatest sin is apathy.
Date rape horrorshow “Johnny Hit And Run Paulene” takes Chuck Berry guitar through an alienation grinder and a “sterilized hypo.” “You’re Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not” makes neutrality an energy, and serves as a pre-cursor to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ most powerful, initial blast. There’s an overwhelming energy in X’s ability to turn blood sucking material into triumphant sing along. “The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss” rivals the Cramps’ retro rock ‘n’ roll wrongness. “Sex And Dying In High Society” evokes Reed and Dylan with spiteful throwaway remarks. Pain and love equalize, and a culprit marries the image of their father, and the loneliest synth in the world creeps in. Normally I’d just laugh and reach for a Streets album, but the bass is nice and tight, as is the cynicism. The title track adds blunt substance to a Stones anthem adeptly, portraying a formerly starry eyed out-of-towner gone angry and bewildered. Days pass by “in an instant.” The whole point about this record is an absence of love and sympathy. As with John Lydon’s better moments, it’s good to walk in a daze with.
I bought this during the last month of my year in So Cal, and it somehow sounds like a perfect memento, particularly to the city in title. Empty, homogenous, but somehow cool as despite the surroundings, there are a lot of positives to take from this markedly hollow record. I’ve got a lot of time for Southern California as a place; it’s a lot less tense and more genuinely inclusive to people than the UK. But somehow, for all I know there’s the same issues everywhere, I can’t take it as seriously. I don’t know if it’s the all year summer, the constant gushing complements over your “Irish/Australian accent,” or having Swedish people translate for you in bars, but this X release somehow reminds me of getting trashed in the Casbah with my lawyer mate (they’re one of his favourite bands), and eating far too much pizza, or going to a shed load of NBA games. I’ve associated it with the positive memories I’ve got of its place of origin, in the context which I made sense of it. Thus I’ll always enjoy putting it in and pressing play.