It’s hard to believe a band like The Ex has been together for over thirty years. Until 2000, their lead singer was G. W. Sok. A Mix of Bricks & Valentines is a compilation of poems and lyrics from his time in the band. The foreword is by John Robb from the bands Goldblade and Membranes. Following is an introduction by Sok that tells of his time with the Ex and the general background regarding the lyrics. And then a few hundred pages of lyrics and poems follow. Much of the content is focused on politics—as one might expect from an anarchist punk band—and follows a chronological order. As one reads the book, Sok’s reaction to certain political issues is made clear.
As to the quality of Sok’s poems and lyrics—it wavers. Some are quite engaging and contemplative, while others seem juvenile. As one might expect, there is a progression in the excellence of the work as the years go on. The back of the book contains an alphabetical list of titles, which is handy if you’re looking for a particular song by The Ex. While I didn’t check every song by The Ex, it seems that most, if not all, of the lyrics from the band’s years with Sok as lyricist are included. At its core, however, this is what it is: a book of lyrics and poems by the lyricist for a punk band. Unless you’re a fan of G. W. Sok, The Ex, or musicians who write poems, the audience for this kind of thing is limited.(PM Press, PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623)