Mind Spiders

Inhumanistic

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Mark Ryan has made like a punk rocker in most of his records with the Marked Men and the Mind Spiders, but his melodic sense has always suggested there were a few skinny tie influences lurking beneath the surface, and on the third Mind Spiders album, Inhumanistic, he's decided to let some of them run free. On Inhumanistic, Ryan and his latest edition of the Mind Spiders allow synthesizers and drum machines to take the center stage, and he uses them to pay explicit homage to a number of key influences, most notably Devo ("Inside You"), but also Wall of Voodoo ("City Stuff") and Suicide ("Suicide" -- hey, we told you it was an explicit homage). Guitars and real drums are still a big part of the Mind Spiders' sound, but even the songs that rely least on outdated electronics, like "Electric Things" and "You Are Mine," owe a debt of influence to synth punks of the past in their rigid rhythmic frameworks and sharp, angular melodies. (It's anyone's guess why he sings so much like Marc Bolan on several numbers, though.) This latest lineup of the Mind Spiders -- Ryan joined by Peter Salisbury on keyboards, Daniel Fried on bass, and Mike Throneberry on drums -- doesn't hit quite as hard as the six-man edition documented on 2012's Meltdown, but this leaner version of the group is still plenty powerful, and Salisbury helps the band brew up some potent, otherworldly sounds that suit this band's edgy, heavily caffeinated attack. While synthesizers played a key role in the Mind Spiders' music of the past, the jittery, paranoid undertones of the songs on Inhumanistic were made for the layers of rickety drum boxes and electronic instruments that put buzzy flesh on their bones, and like a vintage sci-fi movie, this is an outdated vision of rock & roll's future that in its own odd way hits the target dead on.

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