The brown recluse isn’t the sexiest of spiders. It doesn’t have the connotations of the femme fatale like the black widow. And it doesn’t have the monstrous size of the tarantula (on second thought there’s nothing sexy about that at all). But should it happen to sink its teeth into your skin, it might be a good idea to get yourself to a doctor, as its venom is likely to cause reactions ranging from lesions to vomiting to more severe, albeit rare, reactions that may or may not lead to organ failure. And yet, by most accounts it’s not an aggressive spider, and likely won’t bite you unless provoked.
Philadelphia psych-pop sextet Brown Recluse, likewise, aren’t an aggressive breed, but just like their arachnid namesake, their brand of ’60s-style pop is most certainly infectious. Formed three years ago by Timothy Meskers and Mark Saddlemire, the group commands a playful and slightly psychedelic brand of pop that recalls the likes of The Zombies, Os Mutantes, Burt Bacharach and, for a more contemporary parallel, the Elephant 6 collective. The group’s latest effort, The Soft Skin, is a brief but impressive four-song set, showing off a diverse and charming array of sounds in just a few short songs. Leadoff track “Rotten Tangerines” is a gorgeous opener, juxtaposing twangy guitars with twinkling Rhodes piano and bright bursts of horns. The bouncy “Night Train” recalls the swing of The Zombies’ “I Want Her, She Wants Me,” while “Rainy Saturday” is simply breathtaking in its lush construction. And closing out the brief set is the jangly “Contour and Context,” a breezy and sweet tune that’s just the slightest bit bittersweet in its wonderful melody.
Though the statement that Brown Recluse makes on The Soft Skin is a brief one, it’s nonetheless an impressive one. With a full-length reportedly on the way in early 2010, this makes a good introduction to a band with a throwback sound made modern through their unique songwriting.
Of Montreal – The Gay Parade
Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
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.