April 11, 2013 by Daniel
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind as to what album I’d be featuring this week. Tera Melos’s new record X’ed Out leaked last week, and I wasn’t quite sure whether I should write about it, since I don’t like to mention music that there is no way to obtain legally. Luckily, a few sites have put up streams in advance of its April 16th release date, so conflict-of-interest begone!
Anyways, I absolutely adore this album. I’ve loved Tera Melos for quite some time now. Their debut album was chaotic in all the right math-rock ways, but brought a welcome emo-tinged melodicism to a genre that often eschews catchiness for rhythmic mayhem; the follow-up, Patagonian Rats, saw them go even farther towards the side of melodicism – even so much as to include *gasp* singing – to great effect, creating a more idiosyncratic tone by retaining the complexities of their first album while amping up the poppiness that they had only previously hinted it.
X’ed Out goes even deeper into the vaguely psychedelic pop dimension, and in doing so, the band may have just created their best album yet. If you ever wanted to know what happens when a math rock band tries to write a bunch of pop songs, this record gives you a succinct response – some of the most endearingly bizarre pop music ever made. I have no doubt that some fans will be turned off by the new approach, crying that the band have “sold out”, or whatever other value judgement the self-conscious, acutely-threatened snobs feel they need to make in order to feel cool. But these people will be missing the point; this is a band going squarely outside of their comfort zone to achieve that most difficult of musical elements – honest-to-god hooks.
I mean, these are undeniably pop songs, which make frequent comparisons to other bands. Take lead single “Tropic Lame” for example, which thunders along like a fuzzed-out mid-90s Flaming Lips tune, or “Bite” which has an angular lead guitar part that would fit into a Big Country song. Meanwhile, the atmospheric but sweet harmony of “Snake Lake” sounds like it could belong on The Who Sell Out, “Slimes” stomps around like a late-period Pixies song, and the album ends with a goddamned acoustic song.
And yet, despite the sweeter, less abrasive pop sound, what makes the whole thing work is the same math-rock background that have consciously chosen to reject. So while many of the songs fit into a pop mold tonally, the drums still pound away with subtle complexities, herky-jerky time signature shifts happen occasionally, and the whole thing is layered with the kind of sonic experimentation that comes from a group of gentlemen who have been exploring the capabilities of their instruments for almost a decade. It’s just so unmistakable Tera Melos-y, while also showing a band moving forward in a really unique direction. And honestly, that capacity to do new things while retaining the same general, hugely idiosyncratic sound might be the hardest balance to strike in music.
So basically, you should get on this post-haste. Stream it here. You can thank me later.