Maybe Minnesota is just a long way from Texas, but it seems that Mind Spiders are more of a studio band, releasing a record a year but only hitting my town once in the past three. Or maybe it’s just the 1000 miles in between. That’s really neither here nor there, though, as far as talking about the sound delivered on Mark Ryan’s main project these days. The band started off as a solo, post-Marked Men gig and morphed into an all-star Denton, TX band. It’s not as poppy or as punky as his aforementioned group, instead diving all over the post-punk and garage-rock worlds and mining beautiful gems from all sorts of hyphenated genres, casting them into a single and distinct element that’s nowhere on the periodic table.
Inhumanistic is their third record in about 30 months. And the songwriting continues to evolve.
Rather than spout out the “prolific” talking point, instead it’s worth noting the growth and change that’s taken place in Mind Spiders’ work. The first album was a heavier garage-style at the core: faster tempo songs and more choral focal points. Over time, or maybe less over time but more over experience, the band has gone into a unique area that fuses post-punk and shoegaze rhythms with garage and punk’s melodic base. It sounds diverse and expansive, but it’s alternately neat, catchy, and fits into a four-minutes-or-less package. This is the kind of leap in songwriting that takes most bands three records, but also years to achieve. While it’s a change in sound, it’s come so organically that it hardly seems like a talking point. A personal standout on the record is “They Lie,” with its Marked Men punchy tempo but, in reality, its follow-up “City Stuff” may be more indicative of the band at this point. Ryan’s vocals drift over a spacey and distorted fuzz that drones under a carefully plucked bass and some steady percussion. It effectively wallows without being melodramatic. Then, seconds later, the city lights back up with “Electric Things.” (The sequencing on this record is excellent.) “Inside You,” which effectively starts the record, is a nice poppy jam that straddles the balance between garage guitar and hooky melody.
Besides the distinct tone that Ryan’s songs always hit, it’s his vocal timbre, as in “Electric Things,” that sets his bands in their own element. It conveys a pop base with just enough emotional pull, while complementing the musical accompaniment. While I showcased “City Stuff” earlier, the upbeat rock songs are dominant once again. “You Are Mine” would fit perfectly on Meltdown.
Where Inhumanistic steps forward is in unifying that space between the fuzzy, spaced-out material and the garage-punk songs such as “I Want You,” a song equal parts ‘60s jam and ‘90s psych/space rock. Mind Spiders no longer sounds like a band trying different things; they sound like a band who both knows what they want to achieve and also where their strengths lie, incorporating it into a unified style. The keyboards are no longer an experiment, they’re a part of the band.
The strength remains that concise, pop core, and when Mind Spiders stretches it out, as in “Oblivion,” it gets a bit dull and leaves the record on a lesser note. As a whole, though, the band now feels as though it’s found an identity instead of being “Mark Ryan’s solo band” or “post-Marked Men.” They are Mind Spiders, and they come to energize and to explore.
7.4 / 10
While I’ve always enjoyed Mind Spiders, they’ve kind of felt like a side project, an idea that hadn’t really grown into a full-fledged band yet. On each of their releases ...
Mind Spiders continues to be a very accurate name as the sound evolves.The one-time “solo” Mark Ryan project was to be his creative space for worlds outside of the garage-punk ...
Posted Nov. 25, 2017, 12:10 p.m.
Mind Spiders are back with a new album on Jan. 26, 2018. Titled Furies, Dirtnap Records notes that it's the post-Marked Men band's most electronic release to date ...
Posted March 5, 2016, 4:06 p.m.
On March 11 Mind Spiders will return with their fourth LP, Prosthesis, on Dirtnap Records. Based in Fort Worth, TX, the band is described as the "shape-shifting 'solo' band of ...
Posted Aug. 30, 2014, 10:21 a.m.
Lemuria has announced the recording of a 7" with Mark Ryan (Mind Spiders, The Marked Men, more), to be released as part of the Turnstile Comix series from Silver Sprocket ...
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