Terrible Terrible’s recent EP Get the New Computer is the illustrative, 1960s Hawaiian-style label on Kona Brewing’s Island Hopper variety pack. Like, if you picked up a case of it, this EP may just start spilling out of its cardboard handle holes. Get the New Computer is a unique blend of indie rock, baroque pop, and futuristic elements, making for an unforgettable meshing of retro surfer music and techy swag.
The title track starts off like some frantic arcade game player pinging their avatar around a neon screen and adds clanking in the background that had me imagining factory workers welding metal. Synthesized builds are quick to rise and fall, and by the time we hear a child’s voice counting off numbers, it’s like we’re waiting for a live rocket to launch on a black and white television set. “Get the new computer,” is the repeated phrase, a cassette tape recording whose human voices are eventually washed out completely by digital sounds. In just over four minutes, Terrible Terrible tells the tale of the Industrial Revolution mutating into the Tech Revolution.
“Dog Days” transports us to a shoreline a few decades back with its drifting, dreamlike melodies. The twangy guitar, East coast beach bar percussion, and splatters of synth underscore the four-track journey of two contrasting time periods melting together. The vocals paddleboard atop that wave of instrumentation, gently riding above it.
Beachy groove spills over to “Between a Breath,” but with a jam-band feel that has me dying to see a Terrible Terrible live set. The swaying, layered vocals are Passion Pit-esque, but the vibe–and all of Get the New Computer, for that matter–leans more toward the indie groove of Real Estate. “Oh, what a mess I’ve made,” the vocalist sings breezily and with saddened realization of past mistakes. He had me wondering if this is more self-reflective than necessarily asking for forgiveness. Groovy guitar lines push it forward, giving that sense of “what happened, happened,” but heavy percussion is what keeps it grounded in contemplation.
Bubbling, twinkling guitars set an amber-colored shade on “Tasting the Marrow,” where lines like, “You never sleep at night and speak with the grace of a carnivore” and “Close your mouth, you animal” provide a deliciously weird edge to the EP. The vocals are distant-sounding, but sensual. Jazzy percussion comes out to play, and I kept waiting for some classic finger snapping to take things fully into that 1950s boy band sound. But instead, synth leads us out, re-emphasizing that two-worlds-collide theme.
Terrible Terrible has a way of making me feel nostalgic about something I’ve never genuinely experienced; the advent of color TV, pocket-sized transistor radios, tortoise Ray-Ban aviators. But Get the New Computer has added another dimension to that dream; a synth-driven electronic soundscape, ready to blast into the future. —Rachel Haney