Let’s just put the fears to rest now: Despite the Neil Young-nicking album title, Terry Malts has not traded in their two-minute Ramones-gone-‘80s-post-punk blasts for loose-limbed, ragged Crazy Horse country rock (in fact, this album isn’t even as long as “Down By The River” and “Cowgirl In The Sand” combined). Rather, the men of Terry Malts pick up right where 2012’s excellent debut Killing Time did: pogoing their way through 21st century ennui, consumerism and individuality. And if it doesn’t quite scale the heights attained by Killing Time, Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere is still an infectious blast of end-of-summer punk ‘n roll.
The band—singer/bassist Phil Benson, guitarist Corey Cunningham and drummer Nathan Sweatt—remains as unsatisfied with life as ever. “I don’t wanna go to my work no more,” Benson croons on the opening “Two Faces”. Things don’t get happier from there, whether it’s considering bloodshed and heartbreak as the “great achievements of the human race” on “Human Race” or flat-out declaring “Life’s a dream and I don’t want it” on “Life’s a Dream”. Sure, it’s depressing, but have you read the newspaper lately? Dude’s got a point, and between Benson’s seen-it-all delivery and Cunningham’s blistering riffs (seriously, he can shred) the band has found the perfect delivery system for its fractured, cynical worldview. It’s more successful, at least, than the trio’s old band, Magic Bullets, a perfectly cromulent indie act that split the difference between the Smiths and the Strokes, but failed to spark the way Terry Malts has.
That said, cynics may point out a creeping sameness between the two albums, both thematically and lyrically, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The band doesn’t say anything it didn’t say better on Killing Time; there’s definitely nothing as pointed as the first record’s “No Sir, I’m Not a Christian” or “Mall Dreams”, or as immediately infectious as “Waiting Room”. The band also takes its lyrical sameness to new heights by shouting the title of “They’re Feeding” fifty-two times (yes, I counted) in 1:45, which, given the song’s theme of humanity’s unceasing, swarming hunger, is kind of the point, but still.
Really, though, such concerns don’t sink Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, an album that joins the innumerable ranks of successful low-aiming punk records from the past thirty years that chronicle boring suburban life and that light-bulb moment when you realize that what you buy isn’t who you are. Except, of course, when you, person of impeccable taste, buy this album.
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// Notes from the Road
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