The self-described sludge pop of the music of Meanjin/Brisbane trio Terra Pines is an apt capture of the sweet dichotomy between the fuzzy barbed-wire instruments of the band and the rich melodic vocal delivery. This is an album filled to the brim with tight, layered harmonies and cinematic widescreen expanses delivered over an emphatic thump of unleashed guitars.
There is nothing suppressive or depressive in ‘Downbeats’ – quite the opposite. It is an enthralling collection of pop vignettes that thunder and scrape across the sky with an ambitious and dramatic sweep created by a sense-numbing barrage of exquisite sound.
The elements of shoegaze are present throughout – ‘Green’ could fit next to the Ride catalogue with its layered harmonies and wall of guitars and the squealing collision at the end is definitely very MBV.
‘Blood Moon’ by contrast has a psychedelic tremble to it – slower paced and sonically blurred with an anthemic procession of movements. The band continues to press ever so gently on the brakes with the dreamy almost ambient shimmer of ‘Harp On’; a dream-popped sonic landscape with a hypnotic flow and gentle melodies.
A muscular bass, shimmering guitars and ethereal keys provide a soft bed for the harmonies, the circular refrain and the melancholic air. This is a gentler Terra Pines – reflective and cinematic in scope – yet still with a barbed wire undercurrent.
The common thread, however, remains: the sweetness of the melody. ‘Pinos Altos’ sees the distortion pedal tapped again in its mountainous choruses, contrasted alternatively with shimmering crystalline guitars in the verses: a satisfying quite/loud ethic compounded by a frenetic pace and some scything guitar riffs.
‘Indoor Kid’ is a sonic wall of brilliance: a track that hammers and claws its way into your head and takes permanent residence, lounging around with waft of psychedelic substances in the air.
Clocking in to the consciousness with the harmonic resonance and shoegaze attack of bands like Ride, with a Cure like bass attack, ‘Indoor Kid’ adds a barbed-wire verve and a hyperactive buzzsaw grunt to the mix. It’s a thoroughly satisfying cathartic full frontal attack that leaves you very pleasantly discombobulated at the end
(Almost) title track ‘Downbeat’ is a thunderous insistent fuzzy rumble that rolls forward with intensity and purpose. And yet underneath the fuzz and the rumble, the melodies are sweet and yearning, a delicious amalgam of shoegaze and dream pop that captivates while clearing out the cobwebs in the brain.
The vocals have a disdainful, distant edge to them – a casual insouciance that emanates cool and which erupts into a crashing wave of a chorus: bold, cinematic and euphoric. All underpinned by a bass and guitar combination that operates like some gigantic earthmoving machine intent on eviscerating everything between the ears. It’s a very cathartic combination: sweet and sour, rough and smooth. Ears ring with delight when this finishes.
‘Wiseacre’ has a louche and uber cool movement with delicious call and response vocals over a steamroller guitar blur.
‘Downbeats’ is a thoroughly satisfying collection of psychedelic substance-laced candy: a creative tension between sweet and sour, delicate melodies and baseball bat hits to the head, vulnerability and muscle. It is an ambitious and enthralling album brushed with a delightful gothic darkness and buzzsaw cut delivering the sweetest of pop melodies with a melancholic sneer.
Out through the magnificent False Peak Records (see our recent interview with genius CEO Remy Boccalatte), ‘Downbeats’ is available through all the usual download/streaming site, here and through the link below.
Terra Pines will be playing at the 4th year celebrations of False Peaks Records along with a coterie of astonishing bands (see details below) as well as across the eastern states on the following dates:
30 September – Sydney
7 October – Brisbane
11 November – Ipswich
25 November – Melbourne
26 November – Adelaide