New York-by-way-of-Ohio rockers Pterodactyl soar in on their self-titled debut with all the epic badassery of their namesake. This is scream-ridden smart-kid rock that plays dumb; it's a hulking sauropod of a disc that takes math rock in its meaty claws and rips it to shreds. It hops and jerks like early Modest Mouse, it shrieks like the Pixies, and it has just a touch of grimy, glittery glam rock reminiscent of early Jane's Addiction. As messy as they might sound to the uninitiated ear, Pterodactyl are very much a thinking man's band. Death-defying feats of drumming are accomplished here thanks to Matt Marlin, and bassist Kurt Beals (formerly of the Union of a Man and a Woman) leaps all over these songs like a feral prog rock beast while Joe Kremer screams like a Muppet on fire. There's a constant push and pull between accessible pop sensibilities and insular sonic experimentation, and Pterodactyl succeed in holding this tension throughout the disc. Moments of melodic clarity, such as in the opening strains of "Esses" or in the Soft Boys-esque vocal harmonies of "Safe Like a Train," are isolated gasps in the midst of dissonant, distorted, at times violent waves of noise. It's a jarring listen, and it's also strangely forgettable -- which might just be symptomatic of the band's dogged insistence on whipping up well-read noise instead of catchy riffs. But if it whips by like an all-night bender, it's fun while it lasts -- fun as a kick in the teeth or a few spins on the Zipper, that is.
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AllMusic Review by Margaret Reges