Upon hearing “Hobble to Your Tomb,” the leadoff track on Brown Recluse’s first full-length Evening Tapestry, it’s hard not to believe you’re listening to an affiliate of the newly revived Elephant 6 collective. Its horns, mellotrons, ever-so-psychedelic tint and playful vibe bring up any number of that Athens-based scene’s numerous players, from Apples In Stereo to Ladybug Transistor, Essex Green and pre-electro Of Montreal. The connective tissue between Brown Recluse and these late-’90s progenitors of ’60s-obsessed pop is in the influences, however. Brown Recluse’s members have clearly spent a lot of time listening to the likes of The Left Banke, the Zombies and the Millennium, and as a result crafted one of the year’s most delightful psych-pop albums thus far.
Heaping numerous layers upon the winning template laid down on 2009’s The Soft Skin EP, Philadelphia’s Brown Recluse layer on any number of sonic bric-a-brac throughout these 11 tracks. Part of the fun of listening to the album is merely following the band to find out what kind of treats await the listener, be it the heavy reverb drips on “Wooden Fingers” or the whirring Moog in “Summer Showers.” And the mellotron introduced in track one reappears numerous times, most notably providing the base for a dreamy instrumental drift in “Beautiful Light.”
For all the aural dazzle and hocus pocus, Brown Recluse’s songs are successful enough on their own to not need any extra dressing. The gorgeous and upbeat dream pop of “Monday Moon” stands up to some of the best of Elephant 6’s offerings, or Belle & Sebastian’s for that matter. The hypnotic, spiraling melody of “Paisley Tears” is an exotic and trippy bit of melodic euphoria. And the jazz-tinged guitar of “At Last” lends the song a bit of sultry, albeit melancholy texture that sets it apart as one of the most beautiful tracks here.
Though it took Brown Recluse nearly two years to release this first album, following a promising EP, its arrival shows that the wait was worthwhile. Evening Tapestry is a fun and heavily textured album of curious delights to satisfy both the pop addict and the puzzle-solving audiophile.
Ladybug Transistor – The Albemarle Sound
Essex Green – Everything Is Green
Of Montreal – Satanic Panic In the Attic
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.