Ears Wide Open: L.A. Exes

L.A. Exes (Photo by Molly Adams)

L.A. Exes bring on the girl-gang envy, uniting four music veterans: Sam Barbera (vocals, bass), Jenny Owen Youngs (vocals, guitar), Rachel White (lead guitar) and Steph Barker (drums). While they were a unit pre-pandemic, the global mess had the band hitting pause on announcing their glory for nearly a year. Now, having released singles “Temporary Goodbye,” “Skinny Dipping” and, today, “Baby Let’s Pretend,” L.A. Exes have announced their debut album, “Get Some,” will be out Aug. 20 via Black Rainbow Records.

Although Barbera and Owen Youngs originally first met at a party, it was mutual friend and Grammy-winning producer Jake Sinclair (Panic! At the Disco, Weezer) that brought the queer quartet together. Barbera is best known for her electro pop group Beginners, whose singles like “Who Knows” and “Gimme Some” have proven great commercial syncs. Owen Youngs’ songwriting has landed collaborations with Panic! At the Disco, Pitbull, Ingrid Michaelson and Brett Dennon, as well as syncs for “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Bojack Horseman,” “Weeds” and more. White’s multiple talents include producing, writing and even audio engineering for 5SOS, Weezer and Panic! At the Disco. Barker, whose solo project Baby Bulldog is reminiscent of Best Coast, is an award-winning jazz drummer with an international tour resumé including Kate Nash, Coast Modern and Love Fame Tragedy.

It’s all sun’s-out/buns-out with their playful, retro power-pop. The latest summer bop, “Baby Let’s Pretend,” has a classic shuffle with a charm that warrants plays on repeat. Juxtaposing cheeky lyrics with up-tempo melodies, Owen Youngs reveals that “this song deals with the sticky situation of being kept a secret. Not everybody’s been there, but anyone who has knows it doesn’t feel great. But just because something sucks doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun doing it.”

||| Stream: “Baby Let’s Pretend”

||| Also: Watch videos for “Temporary Goodbye” and “Skinny Dipping”