Release Date: Feb 21, 2012
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk, Noise Pop, Punk-Pop
The guys in Terry Malts used to be in a sensitive indie pop band called Magic Bullets, but they are feeling better now. Having purged all traces of Morrissey and guitar jangle from their lives, they now sound like a snarling mix of Ramones-y pop, Buzzcocks-ian anxiety, and Wipers-esque intensity. Their first full-length album, Killing Time, is jammed with short, sharp, nasty nuggets of furious pop-punk.
Based on the opening seconds of almost every song on Killing Time, it would be safe to assume that Terry Malts are a hardcore-leaning punk band. "Nauseous" is a battering ram in the middle of the album that opens with a set of fuzzed-out power chords and crashing percussion. The guitar solo aims for the rafters while kinetic energy builds for the song's full three minutes.
From the ashes of Smiths-channeling San Francisco-based quintet Magic Bullets comes Terry Malts. Made up of 3/5ths of the former, the trio continue creating music heavily indebted to '80s UK-pop, though of a different vein this time around. Where Magic Bullets channeled the somber, witty wistfulness of their inner Moz (or Felt-era Lawrence Hayward), Terry Malts decide to drench their pop conventions in waves of Psychocandy distortion at a Buzzcock tempo.
If you’re going to join the already well-populated garage rock scene of San Francisco, you have to make some seriously memorable noise to stand out, and Terry Malts certainly does that. Killing Time takes the familiar trends found in present lo-fi acts and adds a dose of melodic pop, sending listeners into an high energy spiral of attitude and urgency. The fuzzy aesthetic we’ve come to expect from similar noise-making counterparts is there, but Killing Time brandishes an entertaining personality that breathes fresh life into a tried and true trend.
Slumberland has a reputation as being one of the finest pop (of virtually every variety) labels around, and they’ve got a ridiculously high batting average to boot. I’ve ordered batches of records from them by artists I was previously unfamiliar with out of faith that they’d be great based on the distinction of the label alone (which I realize is a pretty reckless move, but Slumberland’s output is just that consistent, and my hunger for new, great pop is insatiable). Disappointingly though, Killing Time by Terry Malts doesn’t quite stack up to the label’s best releases (and if you’re wondering what those are, look no farther than Romantic Comedy by Big Troubles, and Belong by Pains of Being Pure at Heart).
Before Terry Malts, Phil Benson, Corey Cunningham and Nathan Sweatt made sweet indie pop as three-fifths of Magic Bullets. Now on indefinite hiatus, the trio have made Terry Malts their full-time gig and signed to indie pop mecca Slumberland. Replacing the crystalline jangle with buzz saw fuzz, Terry Malts have easily distanced themselves from their previous incarnation on debut album Killing Time.