There’s a scene in an old episode of The Simpsons, where Principal Skinner is judging a diorama contest at the elementary school. The episode revolves around Lisa’s diorama, but it’s Ralph Wiggum’s entry, an unadorned cardboard box full of Star Wars figurines in their original packaging, that brings out Skinner’s inner nerd, and takes first prize. I bring it up because, in recommending Terry Malts’ album Killing Time, I feel a little like Principal Skinner in that scene. It’s a box of seventies punk fanservice, much of it still in its original packaging. But, as the endless re-plays on my stereo in the last few weeks can attest, I just can’t hold it against them.
Everything from the sound production to the sleeve art calls back to the age of The Ramones or New York Dolls. But the album is saved from the criticism that it’s an imitation, by the plain fact that it’s such a good imitation. Calling it creatively unambitious also seems beside the point. Maybe a more fair criticism is that there isn’t much variety in the songs, but there again, I have to conclude this is exactly the album they meant to record. Check out “No Good for You” or “Tumble Down”, and you just might be hooked. With Killing Time, Terry Malts have served up a loud, hooky half-hour of old-school noise, and pulled it off with tremendous polish. I can’t wait to hear what else they can do.