“Over the last year they’ve evolved from a fuzzy indie band to incorporate the syncopation and roaring distortion of a Husker Du or a Dinosaur Jr., and a pretty hefty shoegaze influence.”
“The Ex-Optimists fall somewhere on the shoegaze/dream pop/90’s college rock sphere. This is greatly textured rock shot out from pedal setups that are closer to sentient AI supercomputers than a simple chain of stompboxes; moreover, it is played live at a volume loud enough to destroy anything fragile within a hundred foot radius.”
"(The Ex-Optimists') Phantom Freight is a great record from start to finish, doing its part to bring back the loud, hooky guitars that were prevalent in ‘90s indie scene partnered with overall great songwriting—something that is often missing from the arsenal of many contemporary indie rock bands."
“Over the past couple of years, The Ex-Ops have steadily grown into one of my favorite bands from pretty much anywhere, in part because of their unabashed love of ’90s indie-rock and dreampop.”
“The indie rockers take your ears on a journey for those first moments where they add shoegaze, Britpop, and psych elements to their signature sound. Pop heavy hooks, catchy lyrics, and a fuzzy guitar with snappy drums are all over. The way in which this band mixes multiple hooks with pop melodies without coming off soft, is pretty damn magical.”
“Good stuff - like Sonic Youth & The Feelies rented an RV together”
“As much as I enjoy the appeal of it sounding like something from the 1990's you'll probably find something more recent to take out of it, one of those college radio bands I don't listen to but is probably just totally ripping off Dandelion or whoever, and so we will agree under different terms. I like music that works and often times that comes with a certain simplicity to it. This does in fact rock but the beauty and genius come from the fact that there is nothing simple about it.”
“The Ex-Optimists are on point and the sound is an eclectic array of fine tuned college rock and grunge era throwback with a hard alternative edge pre-nu metal era. One could also say they are shoegaze indie rock psychedelia without falling prey to a set faction of standards.”
"I feel like if you’re a fan of Hum, or maybe even Sugar; then you’ll love this band. The first time I saw them, I got a chill because they reminded me of Husker Du in a melody meets chaos kind of way."
“The Ex-Optimists have put out an superb album of music that while living in the present tense, takes me right back to my college days, nay my JUNIOR COLLEGE DAYS! They could have been sharing a small club tour with Smashing Pumpkins or Ride in 1991. They could have played a gig with MY band in 1991! This is one of those albums you’ll want to turn up loud and play on repeat until you memorize what you think the lyrics are.”
“Wow, this is great! At their most subdued moments, this sounds like a shoegaze record that should have come out in the early ‘90s. I hear similarities to bands like Ride, Slowdive, or Pale Saints. You know the sound: quiet yet tuneful pop songs often with layers of guitar effects and softly sung vocals. When the songs here venture out and get more aggressive, they almost veer into Superchunk-esque pop songs. Both options work great together and compliment each other, as the band keeps a single identity throughout the record rather than sounding like someone changing their style from song to song. Recommended.”
"The Ex-Optimists deliver a wonderful and clever mix of flashback-filled indie rock and future hits of noise pop. The songs fill me with a strange sort of nostalgia, indie rock style: but it's more than that. It's now and new, but there is a history and love for what came before."
“They definitely do sound like they were influenced by the dewy-eyed heyday of good-hearted, snarky, noisy-but-tuneful indie-rock/pop like Superchunk, Pavement, Built To Spill, and The Posies, but nonetheless, they’ve made this sound something all their own, simultaneously paying homage and reinventing vintage indie-rock into a new thing that’s got some of the shape and look and feel of the original but comes out wholly its own beast.”
“Why are you guys no longer optimistic? Michael: The name is a bit of a misnomer. We were never optimistic. We were less pessimistic at one point, but the currently-everything-is-pretty-alrights doesn’t really flow well as a band name.”