CD Review of Small Town Computer Crash by The Terms

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Small Town Computer Crash
starstarhalf starno starno star Label: ICON/Maple Jam
Released: 2006
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Equal parts unexpectedly charming and disappointingly dull, The Terms’ Small Town Computer Crash rises and falls on its sole central conceit, which is that there is still rich ore to be found in the alterna-pop vein mined by such polite, vaguely rockish acts as matchbox twenty and late-period Goo Goo Dolls.

As with pretty much any of those bands, the Terms’ music can be arresting in small doses – as the soaring “Big City Concrete Wildflowers” and “Gulf of Tonkin” make clear – but when consumed all at once, its unflinching earnestness and tasteful FM gloss bring the songs’ total ordinariness into stark, unforgiving relief.

Nothing here is terrible; indeed, the band’s carefully tousled good looks and pleasantly heartfelt (if lyrically diffuse) music will more than likely win more than a few passionate converts among the MySpace generation – if they haven’t already. (Ed note: 25,749 friends and counting.)

Listeners who strive to find hidden depth in the sort of banal, it-makes-no-sense-so-it-must-be-deep-poetry lyrics that seem to typify this genre will find a lot to latch onto here. A series of lines like “She knows she’s got what every man wants / And the radio called her ‘Black Widow!’ / The headlines read ‘A Rainbow from Hell! ’ /It’s the Ransom Groove she moves to / She’s beautiful, YES / And her eyes are on you!!!” stands, sadly, as a model of clarity and brilliant insight when compared with some of the woefully fuzzy stuff that litters the rest of the record. It’ll look great scrawled on a notebook or pasted into a LiveJournal profile, though, and that’s perhaps what really matters here.

~Jeff Giles