The new album from Terrible Truths is a great collection of the band’s best moments up until now as well as some great new offerings. It’s a tight and jagged collection that tears away the masks from phantoms and reflections and airs grievances like it’s the last chance to do so.
Terrible Truths have been a highly praised outfit for as long as I can remember. The fact that this is the first full length release the band has put forth may surprise some, their longevity and praise has come without a long form statement, proving that a) albums aren’t always the be all and end all of musical output and b) that there was something about Terrible Truths that people had a hard time denying. Their sound, a mixture of angular and cold post-punk, is both recognisable and engaging. The pointed guitar work and groove-laden bass intermingle as sublimely as the dual vocals of Stacey Wilson and Rani Rose. Joe Alexander ties it all together on the drums like he has done for so many other tight bands in the past.
This full-length album features a mixture of new compositions and cuts from drip-fed 7” releases of years gone by. It’s a combination of where the band has come from and where it’s headed, as definitive a collection of their past and present, with a few glimpses of the future. ‘Lift Weights’ and ‘Don Juan’ feature on this record, previously available on a 7″ on Mexican Summer and a 2012 split with Hissey Miyake respectively, while opener False Hope is stripped from the 5 Years of Bedroom Suck compilation. Like their live shows, this Terrible Truths record’s main quality is its suspense and tense nature. Despite the bouncy pace the record sets, this is an album of heart-gripping intensity, fuelled by anxiety and paranoia and muddled perception.
The obvious indicator of this intensity is in the tonal elements – the guitar which alternates between the stylish smoothness of ‘Don Juan’ and the pointed barbs of ‘Sink or Swim’. The bass and drums plod in tandem, erratic signatures and riffs fluctuating like an arrhythmic heartbeat. One of Terrible Truth’s signature elements is the vocal interplay, communicating internal dialogue and conflict, sounding like voices in my head pulling me in different directions. Aesthetically, the album encourages body movement but the groove is laced with frenetic energy which is better suited toward sharp gyrations.
Conceptually, the lyrics of the songs vary from isolated musings to aggressive retorts. ‘Sink or Swim’ talks of being pursued, stalked, hunted (“we used to be / hunted easily / picked off by small packs / who picked the ones clean”) before turning the tables at song’s end (“I don’t lose / I just win”). ‘Lift Weights’ pokes the wound of self-doubt (“don’t want to be a dead weight in the water”) and paranoia again (“I ought to be looking over my shoulder”). In ‘False Hope’, Terrible Truths explore the notion of being at the end of one’s tether – being let down by others or one’s self, stretched until breaking point (“holding on to the thinnest thread / ‘til I realise it’s spider’s web”). These are just a few examples of the emotion nuance laced throughout Terrible Truths. It’s emotionally raw, sad and furious, menacing and self-defeating. It tears away the masks from phantoms and reflections and airs grievances like it’s their last chance to do so.
Whether or not one think this album is worth the wait depends on how much attachment you place on the music you’ve heard from Terrible Truths to date and if you consider the inclusion of previous hits to be a good decision or a short cut. As for myself, Don Juan and Lift Weights are two of my favourite Terrible Truths songs and having them included is a bonus for me. There seems to be enough new material included to make this feel completely new, and the album flows quite well to bring out the best of each song. My only minor complaint is that some of the songs run along the same formula, but they are good songs so it’s close to irrelevant. This is an emotionally and musically potent collection of songs and while it might not make good on the expectations of some it doesn’t alter their status of one of Australia’s premiere post-punk outfits.
You can purchase Terrible Truths now through Bedroom Suck.