Monday, March 21, 2011

Tera Melos - 2011 Patagonian Rats [Deluxe]

Band : Tera Melos
Album : Patagonian Rats [Deluxe]
Release Year : 2011
Genre : Experimental / Mathrock

Tracklist : 
1. So Occult
2. Kelly
3. The Skin Surf
4. Aped
5. Trident Tail
6. Frozen Zoo
7. In Citrus Heights
8. Skywatch
9. Party With Gina
10. Another Surf
11. Westham United
12. A New Uniform / Patagonia
13. Purple and Stripes
14. Kelley
15. Manar The Magic
16. Melt Bamanarnana (Melt Banana Remix)
17. Manar The Magic (Pat Hills' Rat Trap Dub)
18. Manar Was A Rat
19. Frozen Zoo (Thawed Out Mix)
20. Frozen Zoo (Raleigh Moncrief Remix)
Patagonian Rats is delightfully noisy and nothing about the instrumental work comes off as half-assed. The band's trademark shaky guitar riffs jangle through endless melodies, constantly switching up rhythm and tone. It's not like every track sounds like the grind of "Another Surf" or the mass reverberations of "Kelly"; the melodies are quite charming. However, each song holds common ground in that the instruments all feverishly avoid finding their niche throughout the record. Which is all fine, to be honest. The effects-laden guitars generate youthful energy, the unpredictability being idiosyncratic in all the right ways. But there's one tiny little inclusion present on this record that nulls all of the positive qualities previously mentioned: the vocals.

While Patagonian Rats is undeniably more frantic than their previous releases, the actual songs have a serious pop edge and the vocals seal this aspect, lazily dropping hook after another. One may assume they have taken the "Fang Island route" as far as their new vocal components go, but there is a heavy distinction seeing as Fang Island's self-titled brought in group vocals along with tightened songcraft, while the inclusion of indie pop singing on Tera Melos' new LP only highlights the incoherence of the record. It's the juxtaposition of endless mathy indulgence and earnest pop vocals that bring down this record and ruins its truly unique qualities. This isn't quite so noticeable as the first serious track "The Skin Surf" opens up, the vocals sounding reminiscent of surf-rock and flowing right along with the track. But as the album continues on and branches out, one can't help but feel that the vocalist is desperately trying to keep melodic while adapting with the crazy pace of the instruments and it just doesn't work. When emphasis is placed on the vocal hook, the instruments are plagued by their directionless nature. And in the context of the music the vocals sound meaningless, dropping melody after melody but never making their presence definable or interesting.

At the end, there's no sense to make of this record. The crooning melodies sound lifeless when matched up with the intense instrumentals. The guitars, on the other hand, sound amateurish and grating whenever a new motif is introduced. Due to the album's ever-changing nature, the most enjoyable moments come in small fragments. However, in context of the record, it doesn't make up for the sloppiness. It's sad because one can hear the lack of focus dedicated to individual aspects of the album, the record's different qualities being lazily mixed together. Patagonian Rats could have been a fun-ass math-pop record if there wasn't a different vocal hook for every change in the music. They could've created a great noise rock record if they didn't compromise meandering silliness with earnest harmonies. When an individual track is picked out, the album's incoherent sound isn't immediately present. Nevertheless, when the album is played as a whole, there is absolutely no flow and it ends up being a collection of tunes that wander around overzealously and end up losing their sense of purpose. Patagonian Rats is a disjointed piece of work, occasionally finding a sweet spot, but rarely making a statement.

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