terry-malts

(Photo Credit: Gina Clyne)

A common misconception of punk from people who shrug off the genre is that it seems like artists involved in it are too cool to care. It’s this snarling nonchalant image that has plastered walls near and far. Of course this is all nonsensical. So what’s it like when you hear a band in the modern age completely shred these ridiculous misconceptions? Well, it sounds a lot like Lost at the Party.

The overarching theme deals with the battle of moving forward while struggling to shake the memories of the good old days. We’ve all been there, but how do we come out of these moments? For Terry Malts, the answers aren’t there, and there are occasional struggles. But they fight.

Opening Lost at the Party is “Used to Be” bursting through the gates. It’s imploring you to move forward, as life has been progressing without you. There’s a hope to return to a former glory, but the classic, fist-pumping chorus is anthemic as it kicks your ass into behaving proactively. Realism is present, but it's outlined in a tinge of positivity.

You then get “Won’t Come to Find You,” which conveys the power of positive punk. It’s a circle pit where people are more concerned with having their arms around each other than causing a scene. Infectious guitars send you twitching, and bass hooks rattle your knees. Someone is waiting for opportunity only to see it slip away. So they keep waiting, but Terry Malts urges them to just go for it. It’s carpe diem in an upbeat, post-punk world. If this song were a self-help book, we’d pay for the seminar.

It’s then that a certain reflection begins to form – one where the gaze over the outside world begins to peer inward. By the time a track like “Come Back” comes around, there’s a bit of chugging along, but, in their words, a bed has been made, and it’s time to jump right in. The track takes action. In doing so, a darkness is acknowledged – a darkness that exists well outside the temperament of the song. Breathtaking harmonies and backing vocals appear again as the desire to just go back is manifest.

That’s followed by the words of wisdom and warning that come in the form of “Playtime.” A steady clip is plateaued, and a sonic temperance makes sure the track never gets out of hand. Dealing with the consequences of having not done much and avoided the world as much as possible, the band paints a grim picture of a life that’s spinning out of control. Moving on would be the best course of action on a song where you can’t exactly tell if it’s a bookend or a further tale of inner reflection.

You see, the grey of this storyline is most noticeable with what transpires in the middle. “Gentle Eyes” understands a former love never meant harm, and the pain of the breakup is authentic. Additionally, coupled with the sentiment of it not being meant to be on the surf punk magic of “It’s Not Me,” you understand how all sides of the issue are approached with thoughtfulness and consideration.

Tempos ebb and flow with some pops in between. Falsehoods are explored as Terry Malts deal with how some folks just think things will work out without having to actually experience a stressful situation or put in much effort. Sure, there’s a buildup to “Your Turn,” but it doesn’t feel the need to force itself through. Then a stripped down track like “Waiting for the Bomb” proves they aren’t afraid of minor chords – a sign of true craftsmanship. The identity of this bomb – metaphor? legitimate destruction? – is never identified, but it doesn’t matter. Something heavy is about to be dropped, and the trio just want to make sure they’re properly prepared.

Of course there’s also "Seen Everything," which is a hell of a counterpoint to a track waiting for the fallout to come. They channel some Brit pop influences of the late 80s and early 90s to drag themselves through the day on “And Suddenly.” Given the thematic twists and turns, it’s unsurprising, yet still unfortunate, that “When the Nighttime Comes” brings it all to an end. It’s a note of acting foolishly in love while deciding the best course of action should be the simplest one, even if it means staying in a rut.

As Terry Malts said, the album was designed to show complex issues in an equally complex manner through a refined, poppier framework. To say they excelled in this mission would be an understatement. You can see for yourself. Lost at the Party, oh so aptly titled in its metaphor, is now available on Slumberland Records. Joey Smith