The Terms

- Aug 10, 2006 at 03:36PM
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Rating: 4.5 out of 10
If Paul Simon wasn’t a musical genius, Small Town Computer Crash could almost be an album of his. The Terms are a new band out of Baton Rouge, and as generic as this album is, it’s also quite radio-friendly and listenable. Depending on how well they’re marketed, The Terms could have good things in store for them. Small Town Computer Crash, according to the band, is a concept album about a fantasy girl that runs in and out of Ben Labat’s life, the main songwriter and singer in The Terms.

The first song, “Big City”, has one of those soaring choruses... the kind you hear often in a Matchbox 20 or Nickelback song. There’s nothing particularly great about it, but I suppose given the right audience, “Big City” could resonate well. “Gulf of Tonkin,” the next track, has a groovy, rollin’ bass line supporting it, and is comparatively better than the opener. It drags on too long unfortunately, but the guitar solo found near the end is a keeper, and makes the song worth listening to.

The opening bit of “Welcome to the Now” makes one think that something good is about to come, but that something good isn’t as good as you expect it to be. “Welcome to the Now” sounds like a new-country-tinged Dire Straits, and it’s unfortunate, because it has all the ingredients of a great song, but not the follow-through. The chorus isn’t catchy enough; it has a poor breakdown that doesn’t really fit the song, and then trails off, making it yet another forgettable track that doesn’t do a good job of keeping the listener interested.

“Outlier,” the fourth song on Small Town Computer Crash, is quite honestly not worth mentioning. It’s the weakest of the songs thus far - it’s cookie-cutter adult contemporary nonsense that really lacks credibility and passion. “Langlonglen” has The Terms switching gears a little bit, but in a really, really boring way. The chorus tries too hard, the verses don’t try hard enough, and I really get the sense that no one in the band is feeling this song at all... it’s almost mechanical. The title track, “Small Town Computer Crash,” is slightly darker and edgier than anything else on the album, but still ends up sounding like a filler track on a Crash Test Dummies’ album. The one thing I find really unfortunate about The Terms is that all their songs seem to have a great deal of potential in the beginning, but fall flat around the middle; if they could maintain their energy throughout and cut down on the length of the tracks a little bit, Small Town Computer Crash could be a great album.

The album picks up again at track seven with a song called “Neutron Bomb.” The fundamentals of the song are pretty good, but Labat’s voice sounds forced and contrived here. Throughout the entirety of the record, one never gets the feeling that the band is completely comfortable with what they’re doing, which makes for a slightly uneasy listening experience. “Ransom Groove” comes next... but for fuck’s sake, it sounds like the ‘dangerous’ song in a Hilary Duff movie. I don’t even know what The Terms are going for with this song, but whatever it is, they really missed the mark and they should stop it. “Ugly” is actually a very pretty song, and here I find that The Terms sound more at ease than they do on most of the record.

The worst thing about Small Town Computer Crash is that it really fails at establishing The Terms as a band with their own sound. Nothing about this record is unique, though a lot of it is passable. Labat claims that "[The Terms] appeal to the young and the old, guys and girls, black and white”, but I honestly think he’s riding his own you-know-what a little too hard. The only person I can think of who would like this record is a middle-aged soccer mom who wears a matching velour track suit and thinks she’s so edgy because she just bought a pair of pocketless jeans to wear to a Terms show. On the positive side of things, The Terms do have something going for them in terms of... actually, I can’t think of anything. They’ve got a good producer to back them, and perhaps when they hone their sound on their later efforts, that’ll come in handy. All in all, there’s nothing too bad or too good about Small Town Computer Crash... which can be a good thing, depending on how old you are.  [ END ]

Track Listing:

01. Big City Concrete Wildflowers
02. Gulf of Tonkin
03. Welcome to the Now "Evo Devo"
04. Outlier
05. Langlonglen (Faitytale Life)
06. Small Town Computer Crash
07. Neutron Bomb
08. Ransom Groove
09. Ugly
10. Heartstorm Rescue
11. Love of Lies
12. The Vampyre's Ball

Run Time: 52:05
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