Mean Red Spiders

Still Life Fast Moving

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It seems that many favorite shoegazer/dream pop bands only have so many albums in them before the sound gets more straightforward. With Still Life Fast Moving, it's Mean Red Spiders' turn to strip away some of the swirling layers of sound found on the previous two albums -- consequently, if the most frequent comparison point for the band used to be My Bloody Valentine, there's a pretty good case to be made this time for Lush. Undoubtedly, a large part of this change is due to the fact that founding guitarist David Humphreys departed the group and was replaced by ex-Intersteller member Rob Boak. That's not to say that the change is really drastic; the songwriting style is very similar this time out, but whereas before the group wanted to hit you with a wall of sound, the playing is more refined. And, of course, Minesh Mandoda is still in the band, which means you can always count on the occasional blast of noise to shake things up. Paradoxically, though Lisa Nighswander's vocals have often blended into the music almost as if they were just another instrument rather than a focal point, the more basic sound actually makes the vocals sound more restrained in comparison. You might think that would sound fey and lilting, but it actually brings a pop sensibility to the sound that, in places, is almost reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto's easygoing style (even though a full-on comparison of Nighswander to Gilberto would probably, at the very best, be premature at this point). While there will certainly be a number of listeners out there that will miss the densely packed Spiders of old, this retooled version sounds great.

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