May 08, 2003

Mean Red Spiders "Still Life Fast Moving"

I've got to admit that the blissout pop-fest, in general, will leave me happy for many an hour, and Still Life Fast Moving have provided me with a hour's smile or two. Of course, when you're doing the shoe stare thing, you're probably listening to such wonderful bands as Ride, Chapterhouse, Pale Saints, Boo Radleys, or Slowdive--bands that broke up ten years ago yet seemingly won't go away, because while the British "press" loved them and then hated them, those who loved their records never wavered in their devotion. It's a lovely little feeling to know that bands out there still take the time to make this kind of music, and Canada's Mean Red Spiders are certainly students of the early 90s school of sh**ga**ng.

Mean Red Spiders are one of those bands I'd always heard of, but had never actually heard. Apparently there was a big lineup change between this and their previous album, and with that member leaving, the band's sound has also changed a bit, losing some of the more obvious My Bloody Valentine inspiration, trading it in for something a bit more (hee-hee) Lush. Silly giggles aside, you can't help but feel like the pressing plant accidentally programmed tracks from Gala on here, especially the driving "Turn Walk Away" and "First and Only." And, much like Folksongs for the Afterlife, when Mean Red Spiders aren't making sounds that sound indebted to Lush, they're exploring new areas of pop and sh**g**er that sounds a lot like bossanova pop. No matter, though, they're still good here, too. The big winner here, though, is the closing one-two salvo of "Awkward Over Coffee" and "First and Only (Reprise)"--an epic album closer that is just so blissfully good, it's worth purchasing Still Life Fast Moving just for these two songs.

Mean Red Spiders are working wonders for a genre that has been full of pretenders, not-so-goodnicks, and downright imitators, but they've pulled off the trick of sounding totally indebted yet utterly original. It's a rare feat, indeed, and Still Life Fast Moving will quietly win you over, and they'll do it so subtlely that you won't even notice that you've been staring at your loafers.

--Joseph Kyle

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