New release: Pterodactyl

Pterodactyl: Worldwild

Jagjaguwar (2009)

pterodactyl

What a strange little collection of songs this is. I knew nothing about Pterodactyl when I picked up Worldwild. I still know next to nothing about them except that they’re from Brooklyn, New York (maybe) and I think they have one other record out. And they’re kinda’ weird.

Using standard guitar, bass and drums Pterodactyl conjure a rhythmic whirlwind that’s jagged and angular enough to conjure up Post Punk without actually fitting that cast. Nasally vocals remind me of later-period Flaming Lips without the bombast; and sometimes, when Pterodactyl bust out the jangly guitars and tribal drums, they sound like a more spiritual than voodoo version of Liars. There’s also something very No Wave about the no-rules freedom of Pterodactyl’s sound.

To call this album psychedelic would be unfair to the deceptive simplicity and lo-fi punk rock vibe of the songs. They generally consist of no more than two guitar riffs; one-string wonders that buzz up and down the fret board like Dick Dale on Valium, driven by spastic drums and a collage of high-pitched vocal harmonies. These harmonies reference the realm of pop, where everything’s colourful, playful and ‘up’. And yet I find myself thinking of the Beach Boys’ dark side, the one beneath the sunshine, a world of alcoholism and LSD wig-outs.

Worldwild’s first five tracks kick out the jams in a relentless fashion, but by track six it slips into more surreal and ambient territory. On Alex they take inspiration directly from Liars’ Drum’s not Dead, while Ghost Facts is a musique concrete interlude of found sounds and amplifier static.

What I love about this album is that the band are excited about guitars, and willing to reinvigorate the instrument outside the confines of standard rock n’ roll. Sure, Sonic Youth have been doing that for years, and there are plenty of newer bands in on the competition too, but Pterodactyl do it with real conviction. Worldwild is a collection of damn catchy tunes, and I highly recommend you allow Pterodactyl to take you for a ride.

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