When instrumental groups decide to start singing, it can be risky — especially for those with a penchant for technical, nonlinear songcraft.
Indeed, for Tera Melos, headlining The Crocodile Saturday, it was initially an uneasy marriage.
The Sacramento band’s back-to-back 2007 EPs “Drugs/Complex” were auditory ADD, the vocals cluttering up material that was busy and dense enough on its own.
2009’s “Idioms, Vol. I,” however — an all-covers seven-inch featuring amped-up renditions of songs by The Beach Boys, The Clash, Pixies and others — wisely recast singer-guitarist-keyboardist Nick Reinhart, bassist Nathan Latona and drummer John Clardy as math magicians with pop ambitions.
Since then, they’ve successfully applied this melody-oriented approach to originals like “Sunburn,” below, off last year’s “X’ed Out.” At once catchy and complicated, the LP, their third, cements their status as stewards of a nascent West Coast math rock movement — of which local openers Postmadonna are proud members.
In a genre often maligned for prioritizing chops over personality, Tera Melos are neither showoffs nor ciphers — proof that difficult-to-play music doesn’t have to be difficult to listen to.
8 p.m. Saturday at The Crocodile, 2200 2nd Ave., Seattle; $10 (206-441-4618 or thecrocodile.com)