Tapestry of Webs

Past Lives

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Tapestry of Webs Review

by Heather Phares

Past Lives’ debut album Tapestry of Webs had high expectations swirling around it, and not just because the band featured the half of the Blood Brothers who didn’t become Jaguar Love (Jordan Blilie, Morgan Henderson and Mark Gajadhar). With the addition of former Shoplifting guitarist Devin Welch and production by Steve Fisk, a lot of heavyweight names in the Pacific Northwest experimental rock/punk scene were affiliated with the project. That makes the downright melodic catchiness of Tapestry of Webs’ opening track “Paralyzer” -- which chugs along like a long-lost Cars track -- that much more surprising (and a pretty punk statement, in its own way). The band spends the first half of the album defying any other expectations fans might have about Past Lives being Blood Brothers 2.0. “Past Lives” makes the most of the oddly introspective quality to Blilie’s voice, draping it over surreal phrases like “birthmark to the burning witch” and surrounding it with choral backing vocals, while “At Rest” takes the band into slow, spacious territory they never would have explored in their previous incarnation. However, Past Lives’ approach still has a few roots in their past life. Given that the Blood Brothers’ rhythm section formed the group, it’s not a total shock that Tapestry of Webs boasts sturdier, more prominent grooves and structures; likewise, Blilie’s voice was always the implosive cool to Johnny Whitney’s white-hot shrieks. Many of these songs have an undeniably poppy feel that is also largely uncharted territory for Past Lives' members, even if they're delivered with more force than many indie bands could muster. “Vanishing Twin”'s grind makes a nice contrast to its lilting melody, “Falling Spikes”' saxophone-driven dance-punk is equally weird and catchy, and “Don't Let the Ashes Fill Your Eyes” reveals an odd surf fetish, with tremolo guitars and warped Beach Boys harmonies. Past Lives don't get around to unleashing their full fury until Tapestry of Webs' second half, when they serve up a streak of songs that are nearly as fiery as the Blood Brothers used to be, like the brash and brassy “Hex Takes Hold” and “K Hole,” which spans moments of dead calm and some very convincing yelps from Blilie. Though it's a little perverse for the band to bury its explosive moments, it proves that there's more to Past Lives than rehashing the Blood Brothers' legacy. They're still finding their footing on Tapestry of Webs, but they're going interesting places.

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