EP Review: Rex – Rex

The filthy, dirty, squawling guitars in ‘Punk por Buleria’, the closing track to Dutch band Rex‘s eponymous EP, epitomises why this band is so special and rare. ‘Rex’ (the EP) is raw and visceral – carnal even – dealing with themes of desolation, loneliness and survival on a bed of delirious and wildly intoxicating music. In singer/guitarist Jonathan Rex’s words:

It’s like being trapped in a game; where you can only escape by playing it. There are no winners or losers, but you’re still attracted to it, whilst loathing it. It makes you feel a deep loneliness.

While this is a band that wears its influences its sleeve, the result is no pale imitation or facsimile: ‘Rex’ is creatively exciting and stands on its own artistic merits.

With a genetic code that stretches from The Birthday Party with Rowland S Howard’s terrifying onslaught on his Jaguar guitar , the poetic aggression and story-telling of Nick Cave to the elegant poise of Blixa Bargeld in Einstürzende Neubauten, this EP just oozes with cool and an arch sardonic air.

We reviewed the single ‘Palaces off the album earlier this year – a statuesque, imperial song with its Leonard Cohen/Serge Gainsbourg pose and tone:

This is a band that entertains with its studied insouciance and swagger – elements of cabaret and theatre – witness ‘Lovers Like We Used To Be’ with a subtle nod to the Jim Morrison style of vocals that evokes red light nights, velvet curtains and dark all-night drinking caverns. Touching on themes of self-reflection and doubt, Rex says of the song:

It’s a story that happens on a certain night, when you think it’s better to leave a person because all that you have done together is repetitive. You’re left feeling frustrated, but soon realise that it’s your own patterns that causes the friction.

‘Dm’ is a rumbling rollercoaster of a song – encompassing a style of folk-infused story telling with splashes of wild guitars over an insistent rhythm and vocal interplay between Rex and guest singer Sillia Hollestelle. It’s threatening and unnerving but so much fun.

‘Hondje’ is relatively jaunty and bouncy but illustrates that for all the doom and gloom, Rex has a sense of irreverent humour – relating the story of a relationship between a man and his dog and their inevitable demise:

The dog’s best friend has returned to him after time apart; someone he has really missed. Although the dog is glad to his friend, something is different. He follows his owner to the same bars and then a tragedy occurs. Together they want a change, but then he realizes it’s too late.

This is an absolutely gem of an EP. Dark, gloomy and poetically lyrical, and yet luminescent with its glorious coolness and wild abandon. It is out now and available to stream here or below:

Rex hail from Amsterdam and are:

Jonathan Rex – Vocals Guitar
Nout Kooij – Drums
Sara Elzinga – Bass

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