I’ve gone on record a number of times with my terrible presumption about rock music by gay musicians. Simply put, lesbians have all the good rock bands.
The gay male stereotype is rooted in fabulousness, and the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Elton John and the gay contingent of Scissor Sisters are nothing if not fabulous.
So the nitty-gritty of rock ‘n’ roll is best handled by lesbians — the Butchies, Le Tigre, portions of Sleater-Kinney and Luscious Jackson. The most visible gay male rockers are the guys in Pansy Division, but some of their stuff gets perilously close to the Dead Milkmen.
Thank diety for Ex-Boyfriends. The 2/3-gay trio gets tagged as emo, but these guys rock hard, and their songwriting is biting and smart.
The band’s debut album, Dear John, is a tight collection of bittersweet absurd pop song romances.
"If desperation’s a turn-on, then come and get with me," lead singer Colin implores on "P.S.". On the scathing "It’s Not Me, It’s You", he queries to an ex-lover, "And when you said, ‘We’re through,’ what did you mean? Or is that the only way for an asshole to come clean?"
Like Pansy Division at their clever moments, Ex-Boyfriends can twist a sour moment into positive potential. On "Him for Me", Colin criticizes a would-be mate’s object of affection, concluding, "I think it’s time you leave him for me."
The powerful production of Dear John does a fine job of capturing Ex-Boyfriends’ visceral music. I’d bet their live show must be something.
"Emo", for better or worse, is about the best description for the band’s music. It’s not the annoying nasal brattiness of mid-’90s Green Day, nor is it the unhinged destructiveness of Number Girl or … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. In fact, it’s somewhere in the middle, which is refreshingly welcome.
Colin, in fact, owes his singing style to Robert Smith of the Cure. Just as long as he’s not imitating Ian Curtis.
Ex-Boyfriends are yet another exhibit in the growing amount of evidence that lesbians do not have all the best rock music. Dear John makes a terrific case that gay men can contribute more to rock ‘n’ roll than just fabulousness.
Of course, I think I’m the only person with this particular bias, and I’m more than happy to let it go.