Terry Malts

Killing Time

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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. Or is it punk-pop? The ration is split 50/50 between a need to be as serious and tough as possible and a desire to have everyone singing along with the choruses with a wild abandon. It's the kind of split personality that makes for a really good listen and Terry Malts milk it for everything they can, making sure to add lots of variety and scope to their simple approach. Songs like "Where Is the Weekend" and "Nauseous" are big, dumb (in a perfect way) rockers with a barbed-wire bubblegum feel, "No Good for You" and "I Do" are tough and tender love-in-a-leather-jacket songs, "Not a Christian" and "Mall Dreams" are jagged bits of social commentary that may not break new intellectual ground but the guys sure sound like they mean it, man. They even prove they can dial down the tempo without losing any power; "No Big Deal" ends the album on a slow feedbacky grind that adds a nice bit of melancholy to the anger and frustration of the proceeding songs. Corey Cunningham's sometimes bleeding, sometimes detached vocals are perfectly matched to his ragged guitar playing and the rhythm section's pounding but light backing. It's a pretty timeless approach that could have ended up sounding tired and played out, but the group's enthusiasm and Cunningham's ability to craft sticky melodies make it sound oven fresh. Terry Malts may not change your life or add anything new to the basic pop-punk/punk-pop template, but Killing Time is a lot of noisy fun and that's all that really matters, right?

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