Columbus is a mood record. Terminal Crush (the latest moniker of the ever-prolific Grey Gordon) is situated neatly in the vein of slowcore that acts like Seam, Low, and the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up have perfected. That is, expect slow, drawn-out songs with sparse instrumentation and whispered vocals. Don’t expect big choruses or distorted, cathartic climaxes. Look, let’s just say it’s appropriate that Columbus dropped the first day of fall.
The record opens with a song called “Indian Summer,” and a song with that title in this style is always going to conjure thoughts of Pedro the Lion’s “Indian Summer.” The album on which that song appears, Control, isn’t an awful touchstone for Columbus in the way both seem to ebb and flow lazily through simple indie rock songs without a care for reaching a satisfactory conclusion (that isn’t an insult.) Terminal Crush’s “Indian Summer” is, in spite of itself, somewhat catchy, and does in fact feature a distorted, cathartic climax. “Maybe an Indian summer,” Gordon intones on the hook, barely intelligible, almost as though reciting an incantation. It certainly has a trancelike effect, and when the song launches into its crunchy extended outro it works as a jolt to shake off that trance.
“Ring,” the LP’s single, has a bit more energy to it than any of the other songs, with an arpeggiated riff that recalls some of Mineral’s work on EndSerenading. It’s the most immediately captivating song on the album, and it’s an easy highlight. The next highest points come in the one-two punch of “You and Your Kid” and “Sure Thing,” a wintry dirge and a teetering ballad that gives way to one of the more forceful moments on Columbus in its overdriven bridge. Even that moment isn’t necessarily more aggressive or louder than the rest of the song, only fuzzier; the parts of songs that might be emphasized by other bands aren’t, really, on Columbus. To do so would disrupt the flow of the record. For some, this will be the biggest flaw with Terminal Crush’s debut. For what it is, though, it wouldn’t work any other way. Columbus is a cohesive half-hour exploration of a feeling and taken that way, it’s a roaring success. -- Zac Djamoos (The Alternative)