4 albums, 30 tracks
Minimal And Trending Trap Pop Continues Unabated With ‘Unfortunately, Terror Jr’
I never noticed Terror Jr standing out in the crowded Pop pantheon, and now that I’ve noticed them by digesting not only this latest effort, but some past records, I still would not be able to tell you what is special about the duo. The front-woman is a blond girl named Lisa Vitale who sings with auto-tune and adheres to hedonistic Trap styles made famous by ATL Rap, beats created and mixed with an emphasis on minimalism, thanks to the stewardship of David "Campa" Benjamin Singer-Vine. I guess beat artist Felix Snow left at some point, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the music, since all the Eps basically sound the same, though fortunately, Unfortunately, Terror Jr benefits from a bit more polish and range. I say a bit, because these songs are boring man. I can’t relate to them much because I feel it’s mostly culturally appropriated bad girl music made for IG models who seesaw between drug highs and endorphin depletion, the type ‘champagne problem’ scene that I can barely stomach. But damn my personal feelings – if the music is awesome, then I eat it up, yet alas, I can’t applaud mediocrity dressed up as minimalism. What I can applaud are the joints that work, while admonishing the tracks that just lay there.
Some Music Is Vaguely Reminiscent Of The Trip Hop Of Portishead
Searching for a simile to singer Lisa Vitale’s approach, in combination with the gravity of the rhythm, I would say that the nineties alternative artist Portishead comes to mind, though admittedly, they exhibit different vocal chops. I would thus chalk it up to a similar creative attitude, allowing for a rough, haunted quality, like on the late-in-the-inning Trip Hop cacophony of “Isolation”, and especially within the opening vocals and ghost-emotion of album kickstarter “Maker”, one of the truly engaging tracks, which itself explores the subject of hedonism being all there is to life, as I gather from the cryptic yet concept painting lyrics; “lightsaber / party favors / we should meet up / kick our feet up / say a prayer, elevator / we so high now / I could meet my maker / I could meet my maker / I wonder what you'd say to me / and would you be ashamed of me?” In her scenario, she feels such a body high, and so indifferent to the consequences, that she can easily entertain dying there and then, having to answer for herself at the pearly gates, and knowing, somewhere in the back of her mind, that she is being immoral, judged by the only one who could possibly judge, half-caring notions from her intoxicated point of view. I like that the guy she suggests to come over is but an accessory to her night, and in this, I think she paints that fast life accurately, as nothing but scenes of maintaining and accentuating one’s personal high. On these cuts, Terror Jr brings something fresh to the Pop scene.
Terror Jr Excels When They Aim For More Creative Beats
Tracks that grew on me were “Yamaguchi”, “Heaven Wasn’t Meant For Me”, “Have You”, “Loner”, and “Kinda Iconic.” These were places where the beats did something extra ordinary from the norm, and or when Lisa Vitale got pretty creative with her vocalization. On “Heaven Wasn’t For Me”, the sound is extremely metallic and reverbed, while the vocals are formant-shifted in an appropriate way that isn’t distracting. Classic symphonic notes syncopate softly in the background, serving for rhythm, preparing the grander synth beat and snare rolls, yet even as they arrive, they are not overloud – just melodically exciting. Vitale sings ambiguous lyrics, mentioning the concept of Heaven as she has in previous songs, singing “all these shitty people made it past the gates, so you can keep your faith.” She is intolerant of the quality of personalities around her, and I imagine she might be referring to the numerous skeezy drug addict types that she runs into whilst partying. She projects that she is anti-fake, and does not want to be part of a club which she finds hypocritical; “If it's something you gotta pay for, then, Heaven wasn't made for me.” These apathetic feelings extend to lots of tracks, including “Loner”, where she suggests that everyone is hooked on the drug of love but her; “Everybody's falling in love around me, everybody's doing the drug, everybody say, ‘It'll make you happy’, but I just want that on my own.” I can see that she is being honest about her lifestyle, which includes bouts of anxiety, which drugs remedy, though the verdict is out on what she really wants in the end. Is she saying that she is unloveable. Is she saying that love and feelings are a joke, and she is above all of that. Hard to tell.
I Found The Album More Ambivalent Than Artistic
While I like the balance of vocoder vocals with natural voice, in terms of melody, beat pattern, and special effects, “Favorite Bitch” is beyond predictable. The chords plunk along with the same melody I have heard from many of Ty Dolla Sign’s tracks, and by extension, the artists he has collaborated with such as Tinashe. The ‘whoa-ohh’ harmonies kick in and the formula continues, with digitized xylophones, as the duo Terror Jr dispenses with more familiar measures, with Vitale’s voice following the same rising then falling flow I’ve heard on numerous Pop choruses; “don't wake me, feels like I'm dreaming / I've been waiting for someone to believe in.” What strikes me about the album is how many songs express the same sentiments. Theirs is an assault on human interaction, more often than not, or perhaps on romantic conventions, where for the most part, the narrator loves to lecture the ‘other’ on how, in the end, she doesn’t need anyone but herself, yet, we can never know if she really means it – which is a frustrating thesis. I find the content frustrating and half-formed – the musings of a depressed individual who makes sure everyone is within earshot of their sad sad story. They try to express these amazing concepts, but more often than not, the poetry is pretentious; “I believe, I believe in a thing called trust, I believe there's a fine line between love and lust, and I know we could lose it all and finally be rich, I believe I can be my own favorite bitch.” This album is definitely edgier for a Pop release, and to Terror Jr’s credit, they are attempting to shed a light on certain hypocrisies, but I was not moved to care very much about the concepts or the music.
Technically, I Should Love Terror Jr’s Latest Electropop Record, But Something Just Ain’t Right
Generally-speaking, I’m a bit of a nihilistic individual, finding solace in the dark, disturbingly-macabre soundscapes of Metal music & craving anything with an earth-shatteringly epic sense of scale that feels otherworldly as it challenges my classically-trained music theory skills when I search for the power behind this & other like-minded genres. Even so, I have an intense soft-spot for some good ol’ Electropop music every once in a while, enjoying a bit of girly jubilance layered over hard-hitting electronic beats; Artists like QT, Sophie, GFOTY & Charli XCX bring a smile to my face with their delightfully charming feminine aesthetics, especially when their tracks lean in more of the Metric or Frou Frou vein of Indie Dance & Electronica. I was ecstatic when these sort of voices started bleeding over into the mainstream Synth Pop scene around 2013, giving me a healthy dosage of ethereal vocals with bold attitudes that were simultaneously fun to dance to, but the new-age focus on Alternative R&B aesthetics really ruined the whole experience for me as everyone tried to be as hard & ‘streetwise’ as possible, needlessly injecting all manner of foul language into their narratives for shock appeal alongside the painfully gentrified personalities these typically-Caucasian girls were throwing into every track; I’m looking at you, Halsey & Melanie Martinez – With this in mind, Terror Jr’s Unfortunately, Terror Jr should be right up my alley, capturing much of the same spark from the Electropop acts I do enjoy, but it strikes a balance right on the edge of the fence between cutesy & overall-manufactured that just puts a sour taste in my mouth, watering-down what could’ve been a fun new record for me to blast in 2019.
Hints Of Creativity Lure Unsuspecting Listeners Into This Train Wreck
I’ll admit, when I first caught wind of Terror Jr this year, I was immediately engaged with what she could potentially offer me sonically, her intriguing name feeling totally unique amongst the crowd of a e s t h e t i c Synth Pop acts & faux-Gothwave performers who’ve dominated the scene in recent years & the track “Yamaguchi” giving me a wonderful first-impression of what she was capable of, giving me a fun, spritely mix with just the right amount of feminine attitude & vulgarity to keep me invested as I delved further into Unfortunately, Terror Jr. This set my expectations fairly high for the record as a whole, convincing me we’d finally been given another mainstream-facing Electropop act like Poppy who could hold her own & maintain a level of artistic integrity despite her fame, a sentiment which continued when I got to tracks like “Isolation” that presented a soothing tapestry of electronic sounds perfect for relaxing in your room on a rainy day – Sadly, this train of intrigue can’t run forever & inevitably ran itself off the rails as I explored the rest of the record, noticing the same tiresome, Trap-centric, middle-finger-to-the-world ideology was present on virtually every other track, rendering the overall experience numb & unimaginative from tip to toe. How many times do I have to hear this banal songwriting style before Pop acts start doing something…I don’t know…original in their compositions? It’s lifeless & formulaic to the nth degree & I can’t fucking stand it anymore.
Vapid, Unenthusiastically Derivative Dribble
One of the most taxing elements of Unfortunately, Terror Jr that really grinds my gears is the childishness of the instrumentation & breathy drawl of songs like “hungoverheadcrack” & “Favorite Bitch,” compositions clearly influenced by the adolescent bounce of Marshmello’s aesthetic that feel unbearably boring. Those, along with tracks like “Terrified” & “Pretty” are nothing more than lazy compositions with underwhelming instrumentation, poor sound design & this formulaic vocal personality that’s virtually indistinguishable from similar acts like Madison Beer or Kiiara; There’s a reason Billie Eilish gave up on the whole falsetto-voiced Popo act soon into her career, as it’s barely able to catch your attention over the bombastic beats underneath, which in Terror Jr’s case aren’t even that bold to catch your ear in the first place, putting her in this weird box where she just sounds like a more-offensive version of La Roux who banked her entire career on this wispy vocal aesthetic before quickly fading from existence altogether – If I had my way, this whole style would’ve died out long ago when it first got big, as the bad-bitch-with-a-heart-of-rainbows gimmick just doesn’t do enough to satisfy you as a listener; Of course, the vat majority of mainstream listeners who pushed her record onto the Top 100’s in the first place might disagree with me, but I’m willing to make the wild assumption that they’re not that concerned with musical integrity to begin with, just looking for the next free MP3 download or streaming sensation to bolster their collections as they meander about the internet, following whatever popular trends happen to come their way. Don’t @ me.
A Surprise Hail-Mary Saves Terror Jr From Utter Failure
While it’s undeniably clear I’ve been dissatisfied with he vast majority of Unfortunately, Terror Jr, tracks like the marvelous “Have You” restore at least the tiniest bit of faith within me that Terror Jr can make a better impact in the future, sneaking in a genuine hit amongst an album full of pure duds left to right; It’s a fantastic composition full of life & happiness, utilizing a seriously fierce sense of drive that’s as danceable & catchy as it is narratively hopeful, capturing the very essence of what Electropop & Dance Rock should be with an atmosphere not too dissimilar to old-school Metro Station jams, what with its overly-vocoder-ed vocals & sizzling fission synths that blare over a delightfully Casiotone percussion sequence just like in the old days – If more of the album carried the sort of personality on display here & in the Bloc Party-like number “Kinda Ironic,” I’d likely be way more interested in what she had to offer in terms of Pop composition, but this dream is ultimately met with sadness as Terror Jr just isn’t up to the challenge. Perhaps most regrettably, the artsy, self-aware title of the album itself pretty much expresses how I feel about it as a whole, viewing the record like a side of steamed veggies I never asked for & have to begrudgingly eat to avoid starving – That didn’t quite work out how it did in my head, but you get the picture; Unfortunately, Terror Jr is just trash, through & through.
Official Music Videos