The Terrordactyls

The Terrordactyls

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The two young men who make up the Terrordactyls, Tyrel Stendahl and Michael Cadiz, put this funky, endearing album of folk-pop wackiness together while living on opposite coasts. Cadiz recorded his parts in his Seattle apartment, despite the complaints of his neighbors, and Stendahl's parts were added from his apartment in Brooklyn. Remarkably, the album has a live, unified feel. The 13 tracks are marked by the surrealistic lyrics of Cadiz, the duo's slightly ragged harmonies, and instrumental work that's always throwing unexpected elements into the mix. If there's any such thing as freak folk, this is it. On "Facelift" the singer builds a smile for a girl with no face while a minimal drumbeat and rippling acoustic guitars keep time until a celebratory blast of noisy electric guitar announces their delirious nuptials. "Sabina" is a wistful portrait of a lost love delivered by the duo's bright harmonies and accented by toy xylophone and minimal piano. "Zombie Girl" is gross and sweet, the kind of song the Ramones might have written if they were a folk band. Musically, "Decoration Daniel" sounds like an early-'60s pop tune, but the lyric is a kaleidoscopic panoply of disjointed images. On "Devices," an oddly fractured but endearing love song, Cadiz sings with Kimya Dawson, another uncategorizable folk artist, and their interplay brings a sappy smile to your face. "Shipping" could be an updating of Woody Guthrie's "I'm Gonna Mail Myself to You," but with a dark twist. After mailing himself to his girlfriend in a cardboard box, there's an accident that leaves his body in pieces, but before he dies he dreams they're sailing off into the sunset making love and giggling with delight. It's another puzzling song on an album loaded with outlandish humor and a childlike world-view. "Swimming" is a desperate love song that again plays with the idea of death, but the tone is so light and dreamlike that it's hard to take seriously, even though the vocals sound anguished. The Terrordactyls have done something every young band dreams of. By taking familiar elements of folk and pop music and combining them with a world-view that's completely off the wall, they've come up with an album that sounds nothing like anything but itself. It's hard to imagine what they'll do for an encore.

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