deli orientalListen up, punks and noiseniks: The Canadian band’s fifth album in 17 years is inarguably their best. It rocks like fuck; It scratches like a rabid kitten. It’s tuneful and noisily offensive at the same time. All of which should tell you something about The Ex-Boyfriends even if you’ve never heard of them.

The Ex-Boyfriends come from Calgary and I’m willing to bet they’re the best-in-breed in that neck of the woods. If Calgary’s music scene is half as fractured as anywhere else, it takes a lot of balls to be a rock and roll band. Big ones if you play noisy punk rock. Shamefully, I’d forgotten they were around until a notice about this heavy-diuty chunk of vinyl landed in the post box.

Guitarist Michael Paton (ex-The Puritans) and singer Djwell Davidson (ex-The Will, Nothing) are the song-writing core and band founders. Dean Martin (drums) and Andrew O’Neill drive the engine with power and precision. To say they play cohesively is like saying Miley seeks attention. 

Paton’s six strings are all over this record, spraying tightly-wound volleys of notes in the style of the late Robert Quine but without his jazz sensibility. Davidson barks and yelps like Richard Hell so the Voidoids comparisons are inevitable. There’s enough quirkiness here but The Ex-Boyfriends are more of a rock and roll band without the Voidoids’ (or more correctly Hell’s) affectations or self-loathing.

From the nuanced new wave pop of “Too Many People Love Me” to the hot-wired distorto-punk of opening shot “Besides Anger”, “Deli Oriental Meat Style & Food” is an all-you-can-eat buffet of spiky, over-driven punk rock and roll. “Still Kicking The Slow Birds” marries a simple bass-line to syncopated stabs of guitar for a time before revering to a rock rumble.

“Never Been Happier” detours to scarifying surf-pop with cutesy chick back-up vocals. “Bubblegum” pushes the boat out to Sonic Youth territory circa “Goo” with treacle-thick fuzz bass and guitar leading the way and then bursts out into a poppy chorus.

This is a spectacular record. The Ex-Boyrfriends cite plenty of influences - arty New York punks like Television among them, as well as Aussies like the Beasts of Bourbon and the Saints - but have carved out their own place. Check out the Bandcamp link and email me if that’s wrong. It comes as an LP, download (or both).


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