Album #110: X – Alphabetland

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Label: Fat Possum
  • Best Track: Alphabetland

Well, well – a new X album! Where did this come from?

Though the legendary LA punk band have never officially split up since forming in 1977 – largely keeping the same lineup in fact – it’s been 27 years since they last put out an album and though there was talk of them heading back into the studio, it was largely met with a “yeah, right!” reaction.

But not only is Alphabetland out, it’s pretty good too. When an old band’s been quiet for so long, you worry that they’re just going to turn out some half-arsed effort just to pay their winter fuel bill. But while it’s not quite up there with Los Angeles and the classic Under the Big Black Sun, this is quintessential X.

The title track, for a start, is a belter. Exene Cervenka’s voice has undoubtedly changed with age, losing some of its piercing qualities, but remaining distinctive and likably out-of-key. John Doe sounds much the same as ever – he had an old-sounding voice in his twenties, and takes the lead on the fine second track ‘Free’.

I love the fast romp of Delta 88 Nightmare, while ‘Star Chambered’ serves up a catchy as hell chorus. For something a little different, ‘Cyrano deBerger’s Back’ is a bit of a funky number which sees Doe and Cervenka’s vocals – though they never have exactly harmonised – complement one another best. The album ends with a thought-provoking spoken word piece from Exene.

An outstanding return, all told. Don’t leave it so long next time, guys!

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