Terry Malts

Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere

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In certain circles of press surrounding Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, the second full-length from Bay-area pop punk trio Terry Malts, allusions were made that their first album was released due in part to a bet that the record label lost. This seems facetious given the amount of time, money, and energy put into any album, especially those released on indies like the honorable Slumberland, but the snarky sentiment required to fabricate such a rumor at one's own expense falls in line with the spirit of Terry Malts' music, especially on this tumultuously fuzzy set. The abrasive guitar tones of early demos and 7" recordings earned the band the distinction of "chain saw punk", and while the energy of these songs keeps all that brash momentum, the songwriting goes a little deeper than before. At first blush, all 105 seconds of "They're Feeding" might come off as a direct descendent of the Ramones, but beneath the wall of fuzz and sing-song chorus is a hint of melancholic counter-melody that manages to mesh with the tune's noisiness with the same finesse as '80s Wire or Hüsker Dü in their more melodic moments. "Human Race" recalls Devo's cyborg love songs, and "No Tomorrow" introduces a hint of tambourine jangle to their blown-out pop sound. The vast majority of the tunes on Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere finish before the three-minute mark and hide their more subtle elements under a rainbow of fuzzy shades of guitar and crisply overdriven drums, but it's the times when those subtleties come through that make the record. Burying emotional depth and even sensitivity beneath healthily sarcastic sounds, alienated lyrics, and cheeky titles like "Comfortably Dumb," Terry Malts have made an unassumingly sophisticated album. Though rooted in the bombast of various eras in punk rock history, the songwriting and blitzed guitar tones wind the album in unexpected directions, and its short duration lends itself to playing it on repeat to get a better grasp on what's happening beneath the surface.

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