It took less than half a second for The Exbats to catch my attention on their latest album ‘Kicks, Hits, and Fits’. From the first strum of Ken McLain’s reverb wavering guitar and drummer Inez McLain’s sugary-sweet voice, ‘You Don’t Get It (You Don’t Got It)‘ was permanently lodged in my brain and its ear worm potency is persistent. It’s there when I’m watching TV, it shows up when I’m cutting the grass, it comes on suddenly when I’m driving to the store and sneaks up on me when I’m walking the dog.
This is the album we all need right now, the twelve tracks a perfect respite from the state of the world. There’s a tiny bit more polish here than their earlier output, but the scrappy, loose, and fun attitude remains. Just listen to ‘Doorman‘ for proof. Over 32 minutes, The Exbats don’t stick to any one formula, well other than perfect pop. There are hints of power pop with ‘Good Enough For You‘ and the outstanding ‘Wet Cheeks‘, Big Star sweetness with ‘Maven of the Crafts‘, perfect jangle pop ‘Put Down Your Fights‘, and the dirty garage rock of ‘Immediate Girl‘.
‘Florida‘ is a cover from Exbat bassist Bobby Carlson’s early 2000s underground band Ponies (I urge you to check out Ponies’ deranged but excellent 2004 ST album here) and the song is tight, compact, and sweet, with a 90s indie-pop vibe. The album finishes very strong with my current favorite track, the timeless sounding ‘Hey Hey Hey‘ with its Mamas and Papas harmonies (featuring help from Matt Rendon) and the irresistible ‘I Got The Hots For Charlie Watts‘.
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now – the Arizona father-daughter team are simply elite pop songwriters and ‘Kicks, Hits, and Fits‘ is easily one of the best releases of the year.
Out now on BURGER RECORDS