February 23, 2004

Cex "Maryland Mansions"

Last year's Being Ridden clearly established Cex as the bridge between electronica, indie rock and hip-hop. After years of making challenging music, he offered a record that was a honed-down offering of experimental ideas and fun and accessable pop. Yes, that's right: pop. So instead of trying to top Being Ridden, Cex has wisely played a more conservative hand, releasing an EP that expands on that album's ideas instead of looking for new themes or playing around with new styles. He's fucking with the formula, folks--you knew he would, and he's just giving the people what they want.

As befits this mini-album's title, the music is definitely dark, perhaps darker than anything he's released before. "He sounds like Nine Inch Nails!" was one of the comments made about Being Ridden, and though such comparisons are somewhat offbase, it's easy to understand the mindset, especially considering how sinister he sounds on several tracks. Cex's brooding might be a bit disheartening--a song called "Kill Me," even if it's the happiest in the world, is gonna create a hostile environment. It might seem as if one rant and rave doesn't really sound that different than the next, but the best songs, "The Strong Suit" and "Stop Eating," make up for such weakness, and are simply killer Cex tracks.

Maryland Mansions proves two things: that Being Ridden was not a one-off fluke, and that Kidwell is quickly becoming an artist to contend with. Though it sheds no light on the path that he will take next, it proves that, at the very least, his next musical journey should be interesting.

--Joseph Kyle

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