Being the founder and frontwoman for Mexican garage punk outfit Le Butcherettes and a frequent collaborator of Omar Rodríguez-López‘s extensive set of projects, Teri Gender Bender has quite a prolific trajectory under her belt. This experienced standing is reflected in her solo career, having already put out the 10-EP collection COMPLEXIFY that further taps into her ever-sprawling artistry. STATE OF FEAR, then, is but another easy checkmark to her knack for this exciting brand of avant-pop she has ventured into thus far.
The general soundscapes emanating from this EP show a restraint that subtly looms over you, focusing on textures that enhance the feelings implicit in its title. Opening with a Rodríguez-López feature, “GIVE ME, GIVE ME” brings out a simmering beat infused with hair-raising samples that subtly wail in a disorienting fashion. The contrasts continue with cautious guitar chugging amidst a hypnotic vocal layering from both Rodríguez-López and Teri that ultimately channels a dissociative flow whose end result is nothing short of haunting.
“LET’S BEGIN” further descends into grittier territory with a cavernous production that pulls you in with its tasteful drumming and pulsating bass synths. Entirely sung in Spanish, Teri warns of the ills of stagnancy, of putting faith in others that hinder fulfilling your self-potential – lushly illustrated on its ethereal chorus: ‘Es mi fe la que fue el enemigo de todo/Esperé y esperé, la luna ya se comió‘ (translated to English: ‘It was my faith the enemy of everything/I waited and waited, but the moon has eaten itself‘). The brooding pacing, along with the crackling staccato of the keys, makes this downtempo-inspired track one of my personal highlights off STATE OF FEAR.
Teri Gender Bender‘s strengths additionally rely on her multifaceted songwriting. It’s clear that, apart from crafting these particular atmospheres on her songs, she’s also adept at hitting you with infectious hooks, as evidenced on “THE SLOW LEAN”. With a groove whose pocket is honestly addicting, this track does a wonderful job at perfectly balancing experimental production with the vibrancy characteristic of a pop song structure.
Rounding up the EP smoothly is its title track, letting out a cavalcade of buzzing guitars and spellbinding vocal lines that dwell among an incessant brooding that ever so slightly threatens. Explaining the meaning behind the song (and, by extension, the EP) as ‘living in an insecure world in the most secure of times and vice versa…‘, “STATE OF FEAR” sneaks up in the same way anxiety would – an intimidating trance where you find yourself grasped onto its clutch, not really having a choice but to go with its lethargic flow.
Indeed, Teri Gender Bender‘s solo career is deserving of a long-overdue breakthrough, and STATE OF FEAR is yet another reason to put that into consideration. Her proficiency at contriving a somber collection of tracks that can both intrigue you and pass for hits is no easy feat, and ultimately comes from being a seasoned artist. Which begs the question: how would a full-length from her sound like? I honestly don’t know, but that alone makes me the more excited for any future releases she might have on hand – let’s hope that they arrive sooner rather than later.