Reviews Mind Spiders Meltdown

Mind Spiders

Meltdown

Mark Ryan may not tour all that often, but you can’t fault the man’s productivity. Meltdown marks the second release from solo project Mind Spiders in a year, although the “solo” seems to be a stretch on this release.

The first time around, Mind Spiders was Ryan’s project. He wrote the songs, he sang them, and he played almost all of the instruments on the record. Here, his rotating cast of live performers joined in the studio, including a two drummer team that gives an added rhythmic complexity. The real question is: just how much can a band’s sound change in one year. Often, a debut to a sophomore release shows the largest change. Here, though, barely 13 months have passed. The answer to that question: there’s a steady growth to Mind Spiders’ sound, but it’s well within the rest of Ryan’s discography. The songs follow a garage structure with a melodic focus and a lot of precise instrumentation.

The opening “You Are Dead,” fits the bill of the first record and, for the most part, so does the rest of Meltdown. “Beat” and “Play You Out” fit the same style, and the repetitive, driving “Join Us Now” all mine familiar territory for the artist. They’re also all fine songs that tie the album together when things get a bit more out there. Side B, for the most part, sees Ryan expanding into new territory that blends a touch of Devo sci-fi with his familiar garage influence. It sounds terrible on paper, but the songwriting is tight and subtle, pulling the concepts together without any wtf moments. Synthesizers and organ drive a couple of the songs—“Skull-Eyed” has a bit of a New Wave thing going on and the eponymous track is an organ-fuelled instrumental that neatly closes out the record.

Throughout, the lyrics are self-referential, name dropping “The Spiders” but in a way that doesn’t feel corny or forced. “Fall in Line” is a personal favorite, drawing heavily on the self-referential side, mixing Ryan’s 60s garage sensibility with a touch of sci-fi weirdness. His vocals across the album are refined and toned down, with the guitar and organ giving direction to the songs and the vocals serving a complementary, structural role.

Compared with 2011’s self-titled record, the energy on Meltdown is subtle and soothing. It’s a smooth-rock listen with better cohesion when the style varies between songs. There’s less frenetic energy than his renowned Marked Men records, but the melodies are still his trademark, sounding simple on first listen and growing in complexity upon repetition. The album is a definite grower with multiple listens, best suited for when you’re in the mood for a calm jam.

7.1 / 10Loren
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