Tera Melos
Patagonian Rats


3.0
good

Review

by Enotron USER (34 Reviews)
September 6th, 2010 | 384 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tera Melos could've created the funnest noise of the year if they weren't so busy trying to be a pop band.

What the hell happened to math rock, anyway? Bands like Slint and Shellac were unabashedly disturbing, focusing their songs around dark repetition and tedious rhythmic patterns. Forerunners of the genre represented everything about minimalism, creating textured atmospheres with the most basic, fundamental tools. From that defining point the genre has expanded in, ironically enough, the most maximal way. The style has gone through numerous progressions ranging from the jubilant, angular instrumentals of bands in the vein of Giraffes? Giraffes! and Piglet, to the quirky indie pop of technically-minded groups a la Battles and Fang Island. Tera Melos marked their place in the genre with their unique self-titled record, expanding upon the genres usual wankery and tastefully including jazz dynamics and lush electronics. The album was rewarding in the way it went against the grain, incorporating crazed freakouts that channeled the essence of The Mars Volta combined with eery atmospherics. And now Tera Melos have embraced their technical skill and ran amok, leaving their previous aspects behind them.

Patagonian Rats is delightfully noisy and nothing about the instrumental work comes off as half-assed. The band's trademark shaky guitar riffs jangle through endless melodies, constantly switching up rhythm and tone. It's not like every track sounds like the grind of "Another Surf" or the mass reverberations of "Kelly"; the melodies are quite charming. However, each song holds common ground in that the instruments all feverishly avoid finding their niche throughout the record. Which is all fine, to be honest. The effects-laden guitars generate youthful energy, the unpredictability being idiosyncratic in all the right ways. But there's one tiny little inclusion present on this record that nulls all of the positive qualities previously mentioned: the vocals.

While Patagonian Rats is undeniably more frantic than their previous releases, the actual songs have a serious pop edge and the vocals seal this aspect, lazily dropping hook after another. One may assume they have taken the "Fang Island route" as far as their new vocal components go, but there is a heavy distinction seeing as Fang Island's self-titled brought in group vocals along with tightened songcraft, while the inclusion of indie pop singing on Tera Melos' new LP only highlights the incoherence of the record. It's the juxtaposition of endless mathy indulgence and earnest pop vocals that bring down this record and ruins its truly unique qualities. This isn't quite so noticeable as the first serious track "The Skin Surf" opens up, the vocals sounding reminiscent of surf-rock and flowing right along with the track. But as the album continues on and branches out, one can't help but feel that the vocalist is desperately trying to keep melodic while adapting with the crazy pace of the instruments and it just doesn't work. When emphasis is placed on the vocal hook, the instruments are plagued by their directionless nature. And in the context of the music the vocals sound meaningless, dropping melody after melody but never making their presence definable or interesting.

At the end, there's no sense to make of this record. The crooning melodies sound lifeless when matched up with the intense instrumentals. The guitars, on the other hand, sound amateurish and grating whenever a new motif is introduced. Due to the album's ever-changing nature, the most enjoyable moments come in small fragments. However, in context of the record, it doesn't make up for the sloppiness. It's sad because one can hear the lack of focus dedicated to individual aspects of the album, the record's different qualities being lazily mixed together. Patagonian Rats could have been a fun-ass math-pop record if there wasn't a different vocal hook for every change in the music. They could've created a great noise rock record if they didn't compromise meandering silliness with earnest harmonies. When an individual track is picked out, the album's incoherent sound isn't immediately present. Nevertheless, when the album is played as a whole, there is absolutely no flow and it ends up being a collection of tunes that wander around overzealously and end up losing their sense of purpose. Patagonian Rats is a disjointed piece of work, occasionally finding a sweet spot, but rarely making a statement.



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user ratings (366)
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
CharizardOysterSauce (4.5)
This album is a masterpiece, many will argue being their best to date, but i personally believe each...

mecca (5)
Patagonian Rats kicks ass and doesn't bother taking names. The band's usual jazz is all but gone. ...

nicholasarthur (4)
Tera Melos takes their best elements from previous albums, experiments with new elements, and effort...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

http://teramelos.bandcamp.com/



thank you to Sea for editing my review, I hope I attended to everything.

SeaAnemone
September 6th 2010


21415 Comments


review is correct... you basically said what I was thinking and said it pretty well. people like this which is fine... but idk I don't really all that much.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010


32190 Comments


Album's pretty bleh

Canyons of Static
September 6th 2010


638 Comments


Album's pretty bleh

Yep

SeaAnemone
September 6th 2010


21415 Comments


oh were slint math rock


he didn't necessarily insinuate they were, he followed it up with "forerunners of the genre" which I'm pretty sure they were

Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i'd say so, though some would say post-rock



first paragraph does have a bunch of namedropping, but I tried to avoid focusing to long on that

crazyblinddude
September 6th 2010


3390 Comments


Interesting review. I still need to give this album a few more spins, but I can definitely understand your arguments.

porch
September 6th 2010


8460 Comments


good review, haven't heard this though

Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

it's trivial, seeing as they were the forerunners of both genres

SeaAnemone
September 6th 2010


21415 Comments


I have been embarrassed and ashamed, never again can I return to this thread.

Tits McGee
September 6th 2010


1876 Comments


i need this i guess

Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@chambered ehhh party with gina was my favorite. this was originally like a 3.5 for me, but I just can't make through the entire

thing as a whole

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
September 6th 2010


32190 Comments


I'm inclined to agree with my thoughts on this album

TMobotron
September 6th 2010


7236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This was a really awesome review Eno. I actually love the vocals in every way, which is something I

never thought would be true with this band. I think it's the perfect mix of poppy and mathy.



I might be biased by the fact that I've been listening to as much math rock as possible lately, and

it's really nice to hear something fresh in the genre like this.

luci
September 6th 2010


11856 Comments


Haven't listened to this yet but I'll probably end up in the 3 crowd rather than the 4.5 crowd.
Yeah.


Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

thanks for the compliments, and yeah i'll fix that up mob

TMobotron
September 6th 2010


7236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

that doesn't seem like a good mindset

Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i like trident tail about 4:00 and on, seems to be one of the few tracks that really had a nice jazzy sound, which they really seemed to ditch with the exception of a couple of dynamics.

TMobotron
September 6th 2010


7236 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I think Trident Trail would've been better placed more towards the center of the album. It's a nice change of pace, but it comes too early. Also the first half of it is the only time where the vocals annoy me. The "there's not enough hours in the day-ay" part is pretty bad. But yeah the second half is nice.

Enotron
September 6th 2010


7695 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

i think in retrospect, the vocals work in a technical sense along with the instruments at times, but they sound relatively dull to me.



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