Picks and Pans Review: More Fun in the New World

updated 11/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

X

The Los Angeles-spawned abstract-rock group has matured into a versatile ensemble that is not only satisfying from head (lyres) to toe (rhythm) but has a heart too. Perhaps the two most striking tracks on this the fourth X LP are Hot House and Poor Girl, which are as tightly arranged and sharply played as the best mainstream rockers' material. The contrast with the helter-skelter sound that's more typical of X is clear; there is obviously a method to their apparent madness. This album also demonstrates the vocal polish of Exene Cervenka and John X. Doe—some near-middle-of-the-road sounds peep through—as well as their skill as songwriters. Hot House includes one of the year's best lines: "The whole world loves a sad song they don't have to sing." And even the most disjointed Cervenka-Doe lyrics coalesce into vivid vignettes and emotional moods. Make the Music Go Bang!, in fact, has an eerie Kurt Weill-like overtone. The New World, an explicitly anti-Reagan song, overdoes the protest ("It was better before, before they voted for What's-his-name"), but most of this album is much more fun—and much more thoughtful.

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