Review Summary: A bustling indie-rock album that demonstrates a nose for eccentricity as well as stark vulnerability.
Brimming with quirky energy, transient song lengths, and amateurish vocals, Growing Down
feels like a breath of fresh air within the indie-rock scene. Termination Dust – an Alaskan trio named after “a light, high-altitude snowfall that indicates the end of summer” – has dropped its third record since signing to Glacial Pace Recordings (home to Modest Mouse among others) in 2017, and it’s quite possibly the album that will see this band transform from a total unknown into a shed name (the nickname I’m going to temporarily lend to bands that stand a chance of modest popularity, but that will never be household names, and can’t be garage names as it implies a genre!) Lead vocalists and guitarists Jaybird Parkhurst and Stefanie Vigoren wail on in pitches of varying agreeability, while crafting a slightly imperfect balance between melodic and murky. Between its raw candidness, the occasional twinkling of electric guitars, and its overt willingness to dive right into tidal waves of drums/guitars, Growing Down
could almost be mistaken for an emo record in the vein of The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – only with Modest Mouse influences and decidedly messier than either.
Speaking of candidness, what really shocked me about Growing Down
was how honest and unexpectedly meaningful the lyrics are, especially given the flippant mood of the songs. When Parkhurst admits “I never want to hurt you…I’m starting to wonder if it’s all I can do” on ‘Fog’ – which feels like a seminal release for the band – it’s an early turning point for Growing Down
, which turns on a dime from bouncy/lighthearted to this feeling of “oh, damn – this is gonna hit home ain’t it?” It’s a sensation that never again escapes Termination Dust’s grasp, as they convey everything from giddy new relationship feels on ‘Pull & Peel’ (“Seconds, minutes, hours, and days – it’s getting pretty difficult to differentiate when I’m so close to you”) to the devastating lows of unrequited love on ‘Indifferent’ (“Your friendship means more to me than anything, I still wish you’d think of me differently”). While relational motifs certainly pop up throughout, Growing Down
isn’t entirely a love/breakup album. There’s delicate moments such as ‘Still Sleeping’, which see Parkhurst and co. grapple with the death of a close friend: “Am I gutted, am I numb – you went to sleep and you never woke up / I made it to thirty years old…why me? I could have died instead.” The earnest delivery only sharpens her words, taking relatively common themes and turning them into penetrating weapons.
isn’t going to define a year or blaze a new genre path, but it wasn’t meant to. It’s a bustling indie-rock album that demonstrates a nose for eccentricity as well as stark vulnerability, giving the experience an energy and freshness that many similar outings lack. Growing Down
isn’t afraid to get into the nitty gritty, wearing its heart on its sleeve while alternating between sweet, sugary melodies and raw, crunchy guitars/drums. When you add up all the little two minute ditties into a summative experience, it’s way more fulfilling than it has any right to be.