The Designer’s Drugs: Terrible Things

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Terrible Things

Anno: 2010

On Terrible Things (the album), Terrible Things (the band) spend most of their time skillfully summing up the current state of wistful, angsty rock instead of advancing it.  This is most obvious in “Terrible Things” (the song), in which the band turns “terrible things” (the lyric) into a repetitive mantra that drowns out the bright pop-punk at its side (which brings the question: how terrible could the things you’re doing be if you’re singing such an upbeat and cheerful song about them?).

Tired rock conventions do slip into the album from time to time, especially lyrically.  The most glaring evidence of this is in the aptly-titled “Revolution,” which serves as both the album’s most aggressive and least powerful track.  “This is not a revolution,” the song postures amidst the power chords, “till we say it is.”  Right.

Yet there are bright points to the album which merit listening.  The album’s zenith comes in the tinfoil jangleswagger of “Conspiracy,” a bit of vaudeville in which lyrics, music, and mood match up in the album’s best synthesis.  Another example of fine landscape is found in the album’s eerie closer, “The Arsonist’s Wife,” though the typical rock rage in the choruses distract from the building (and enduring) tension.  And no matter how typical the renditions may be here, most of Terrible Things offers prime examples of the styles.  Think of this as modern rock’s yearbook, or perhaps its time capsule.

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