Reliqa’s “Terminal” is a Lesson in Feral Honesty

Somewhere in my home library, there’s a beaten-up book of essays called 3 Minutes or Less: Life Lesson’s from America’s Greatest Writers. I’ve had it since I was in middle school. Contributing authors include Sue Miller, Tim O’Brian, Amy Tan, among many others. One such other is the late Pat Conroy. In his page-and-a-half essay, he chronicles a nasty set of events that he witnessed as a child. Later, he asked his sister if those events had occurred or not. She replied that they hadn’t. When he asked why, she reportedly said, “We didn’t write it down. If it’s going to be real, you’ve got to write it down.”

I think about this passage from time to time. It is a cornerstone of my belief in writing, a reminder of why I do what I do. But I didn’t think that Reliqa’s new single “Terminal would bring me back to that passage, driving a compulsion to find that book just to re-read that short essay and circle it in black ink.

“Terminal” is drastically honest. I should have expected it. Monique Pym mentioned in our previous interview in 2022 that Reliqa was taking a turn for the personal and moving away from storytelling. This was evident in their previous EP, I Don’t Know What I Am, and it’s just as biting now. “Terminal” is feral, laced in doubt and the chronic worry of growing older and losing the person we thought we were on the way. It’s a difficult song. It begs the question of the self—of what, or who that is, and where it stops. There’s anger here, self-deprecation that’s somehow painful and comforting in its relatability.

‘“Impossible” they tell me, “Can’t lose yourself when it’s all you’ve known”’

I’m a sucker for these lyrics, equal parts tortuous and deeply introspective, cracked wide open by the band’s musical mastery. I’m gripped by the crisp drum licks by Benjamin Knox, captivated by Brandon Hutcheson’s guitar runs, and lulled firmly into the rhythm by the steady bass of Miles Knox. The combination is expansive and consuming. The way the band works together is like a dance, a trance I’m not likely to come out of.

“Terminal” holds something new but practiced, a sound that is fully developed, experimental, and undeniable. Reliqa has become comfortable pushing their musical boundaries, just far enough never to be anticipated, but always anchored to a specific sound that is all their own. “Terminal” ebbs and flows on the line of unfamiliar and well-known. It makes every release exciting, unexplored territory, with the knowledge that, once explored, it will simply become a new extension— a new facet of them. They’ve so far collected many of these facets, a multi-faced jewel, refracting every new sound as a part of the whole.

Also, have I mentioned the stunning and intimate music video? You can find it below, and don’t worry if you find yourself repeating it five times in a row, it’s only natural.


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