Tera Melos
X'ed Out


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jacob Royal STAFF
May 15th, 2013 | 37 replies


Release Date: 04/16/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As unequivocally odd as it is accessible

X’ed Out is the most streamlined Tera Melos has ever been. It’s evident enough, even from a precursory glance at the album’s song titles and lengths, that this is the album where Tera Melos wants to grow up and leave its prepubescent days behind. No need for long-time fans to worry, though-- X’ed Out is still quirky enough in all the right ways.

From the chaotic cadences in “Bite” to the hypnotic contemplations that comprise “Snake Bite,” there’s enough variation in X’ed Out to please longtime Tera Melos fans. This album covers all the bases, from the tapping frenzies of the band’s debut to the blatant pop sensibilities in the group's most recent efforts. And catchy tracks like “Sunburn” merge the two disparate qualities into an infinitely cheerful tune, one that summarizes the personality of Tera Melos’ music in distinctly accessible packaging. X’ed Out can be viewed as the album that reached towards the opposing aspects of Tera Melos’ work, and pushed them together into a comfortable pocket of consistency-- and one that’s far cozier than expected.

I do have one major bone to pick with X’ed Out, though, which would be its puzzling production. The guitar is pushed to the forefront, as per usual for Tera Melos-- but it's never sounded so dry. Guitarist Nick Reinhart clearly has the chops for some incredible work here-- and anyone who’s heard the band’s EP Drugs to the Dear Youth can attest to that-- but his instrument’s flagrantly trebly and grimy tone only serves to dissuade potential listeners. Drummer John Clardy is unfairly represented by the album’s production, as well-- his innovative playing style sounds best when in the forefront, but gets drowned out when the other instruments join the fold.

X’ed Out’s production is most excruciating when the album’s most impacting moments come, because they flounder from the inaudible subtleties tying the experience together. Opener “Weird Circles” is clearly one of the album’s highlights-- it functions as the eccentric cousin to one of fellow math rock group Maps & Atlases’ most recent tracks, “Old and Gray,” because both songs build up suspense only to passionately burst through it. But while “Old and Gray” works very patiently, “Weird Circles” just has to change things up after about a minute. And this is where the mediocre production hurts the band the most, because the track's moment should have been the pinnacle of X’ed Out. Since its importance is somewhat muted, so is the song’s significance-- such is the shame of the new and streamlined Tera Melos, I suppose.

The production doesn’t always fall flat, though. The most obvious success it brings to the table is lead single “Sunburn” and its carefree noodling-- all of which is pleasantly audible. But what’s even more audible is the passion Tera Melos has for the track, and it’s a feeling the band hasn’t exuded since its early days. This is why X’ed Out is simultaneously a proper return to form and a rebirth of the math-rock-cum-indie group-- the release is filled to the brim with an energetic air that functions like lightning in a bottle, often sought after but rarely captured. And sure, the group could have pursued a different style of production to allow the highlights to reveal themselves more naturally, but Tera Melos isn’t used to holding vocals at the forefront just yet. In addition to providing guitar licks, Nick Reinhart utilizes the album’s fairly basic song structures to find the best uses for his voice. He often succeeds in providing that extra melody each track needs to stay afloat, and this degree of success paints the band in an entirely different picture than the one in which we discovered them several years ago.

Tera Melos wants to write memorable and catchy songs now, and who can blame them? After experimenting with nearly-30-minute noise assaults and EPs that were the equivalent of caffeinated instrumental gymnastics, it’s no surprise Tera Melos favors accessibility in 2013. At least X’ed Out is the weird kind of accessible-- more people will find the album enjoyable than the group’s previous outings, but only some will have the intimate experience with the album that the band was really planning on. X’ed Out was written to be loved immediately as well as over time, enjoyed consistently as both we and the band mature further. And for what it’s worth, the album has carried out its mission quite successfully so far.



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user ratings (148)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Tyler. (3)
Wasted Potential...

Tony Li (4.5)
Say what you want, but these guys are still the best experimental avant-garde dream math pop rockers...

Hernan M. Campbell STAFF (4)
Accessibility and technicality intertwined....

Lucid CONTRIBUTOR (4)
Pop hooks and guitar noodling! Done better, this time....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Because this album so needed another 4 review!

Enjoy the weird-ass video for "Bite," in the meantime - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYXhD2U2dTI


PunchforPunch
May 15th 2013


6280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

what is this

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha, you're being so specific there friend!

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


4453 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I knew this was coming. Excellent work, man. I didnt think the production was that bad though, it's the only part where i mildly diasgree with you.

elephantREVOLUTION
May 15th 2013


2784 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that bite video is crazy. made me like the song way more.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers, Hernan! I like the production sometimes-- it works particularly well in "New Chlorine," for example. But for some of the more vibrant tracks, I think it leaves a little something to be desired. Have you heard the band's EP I mentioned in the review? I think its production was perfect.

And yeah, man, I love the video. This is coming from a huge Tim and Eric fanboy, though.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 15th 2013


23973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

you're making me want to get into this band more. I've only heard this and Patagonian Rats.

Digging: Taylor Swift - 1989

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 15th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad to hear these reviews are working! Honestly, Adrian, you've listened to my two least favorite Tera Melos releases haha. I think you'd dig the band's early work a lot!

Azn.
May 15th 2013


5615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeahhhhhhh lovin these melos reviews omaha

IrrationalAnimal
May 15th 2013


77 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album sounds so fresh, ya feel

i'm a sucker for pop hooks in unusual genres

Azn.
May 15th 2013


5615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

is anyone else reminded of the band Battles

sniper
May 16th 2013


19080 Comments


aids listen to the 2005 album now or else you don't know tera melos

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 16th 2013


4951 Comments


not a fan of the summary, has negative connotations

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Az! And I can hear Battles more in the band's earlier works-- here, not so much

Edit: actually I can totally hear it in songs like "Melody 9."

Winsomniac
May 16th 2013


8012 Comments


Yeah I would say it's definitely catered more for the greatest common factor, really.

Digging: Submotion Orchestra - Alium

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 16th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah Sobhi, I thought of that as well. I may add a blurb towards the end-- I was wanting it to catch people off-guard, but maybe it's a bit much.

Winsomniac
May 16th 2013


8012 Comments


Accessibility doesn't always suffocate depth and creativity. I'd say this is one of those cases. I mean it's not that shit-your-pants-different-and-refreshing to begin with, but the fact that it pretty much provides instant gratification isn't really the cause, imo.

Spec
May 18th 2013


27271 Comments


yeah this band fucking rules still

Digging: Midnight - No Mercy for Mayhem

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2013


10362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hey Spec!

Yeah, I'm going through a big Tera phase right now. May review their EP soon, as it's the most interesting release they've done.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013


23973 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

3rd feature for this album god damn



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