Terris : Learning To Let Go

Debut album fulfills shouty early promise

It’s about time. Terris, remember, were [I]NME [/I]cover heroes heralded as the First New Stars of 2000 on the strength of a few irascible live shows and an impressive volley of invective against musical dinosaurs in need of being felled. They then released the near-godawful ‘The Time Is Now’ EP and promptly disappeared from radar. Our belief in them looked like folly until they returned to this year’s [I]NME[/I] Carling Awards Shows with an artillery of new tunes proving it wasn’t too late for them to make good on their promise.

Terris are destined to polarise opinion. Gavin Goodwin’s voice is an acquired taste, a raw-throated force of nature simultaneously compelling and unsettling. Unlike the crop of new bands that have recently found success (Coldplay, everyone associated with NAM), Terris are not easy to digest. They are opaque, ragged, boisterous. They are not even remotely cool, and true to their South Wales estates origins, make no concessions to fashionable posturing. Unapologetically naff, they look like they’ve come to repair your washing machine rather than save your mortal soul.

Yet it’s the force of their self-belief that makes all the difference. From the skittering, screeching feedback that introduces opener ‘White Gold Way’ to the frothy, prolonged meltdown of final track ‘Deliverance’, ‘Learning To Let Go’ never lets up. Bristling with Year Zero attitude and intensity, it firmly restates Terris’ desire to clear away the debris and start again. This isn’t just an ambitious album, it’s a hungry, desirous thing, itching with malcontent. No ambivalence or hesitation, only full-throttle conviction.

Although spiritually Terris follow every band who ever dared to throw acid on popular taste, early comparisons to The Stone Roses and Joy Division now seem untenable in the face of their high-velocity rage. This is resolutely a ROCK record, with an overt debt to Guns N’Roses (‘Shapeshifter’ and ‘Deliverance’) and an inkling of a secret albums-under-the-bed fondness for (steady, girls) Bon Jovi. There are epic affectations at every turn, including a smattering of hilariously Spinal Tap moments, and the lyrics veer between sixth form poetry (“As the autumn sun arose/Rich in her auburn robes…”) and truly exceptional wordplay (“We’re chewing on the gristle of a love that’s rotten in the middle”).

This is by no means a perfect record all tracks have a similar pace and breadth of vision, and it fails comprehensively to be as [I]dangerous[/I] as it wants to be but it remains a vociferous statement of intent from a band dedicated to annihilating clichés. ‘Learning

To Let Go’ isn’t going to bring down the complacent status quo in one fell swoop. But, as a shot of slow poison in the bloated side of Establishment Rock, it’s an excellent start.

April Long

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