Whenever folks think of Gerty!, the trio that spawned The Ex-Members, they think of new wave. As loaded as the '80s are with cultural baggage, Gerty's unflinching fandom for that time's hook-filled pop (and the overlooked influence of post-punk guitar on David Koslowski's play) often limited people's perception of the band's music. Gerty consistently outlived that stereotyping, but their new gig is even better.
On their thrilling debut EP, The Ex-Members beat those old perceptions, ripping through three chunky, buzzing songs that crackle with a ferocious party vibe. So many similar synth-pop clones have lacked emotional heft, many of the bands sounding so detached that they were less like suave robots and more like dull dimwits. Not the Members: They deftly negotiate the tenuous line between creating melodrama and stirring full-throttle rock joints.
On opener "Into the Nite," a dirty synth line backslaps between little frames of guitar squall. The momentum steams up, the song covered in a sense of dark abandon. Shirle Hale's rich delivery tints things a deep magenta, her voice tinged with a bluesy warmth, much like Yaz's Alison Moyet (an '80s dance-pop icon, for sure). There's a sax-y sample, some added funk, and by equation's end, Hale just belting it in yelps. It's a nearly perfect vocal dance cut, a gem amid warehouses of the imperfect. "Big Black Goodbye" gradually hand-claps up, a sultry club lizard slithering through last call, while "Wishes" snap-clicks, more BPM, more anthem power, due in no small part to Ex-Butchy Melissa York behind the pulse.
Sure, there will be more pop jams this summer (Lil' Mama's "Lip Gloss" bangin' in many cars that go boom), but given the elasticity of solid party music like this and its creators' head for inspiration and unity-building (they talk about a universal "we" in these songs, what reggae artists would call a conscious mentality), you could throw the Exes up against the lot of 'em all.