Meltdown is a smokescreen of a title. While Mind Spiders might have you believe they’re on the verge of a nuclear-sized implosion, their music teeters without ever spilling over. There’s no real catharsis, as is so often the point in punk music, but the constant rush of BPMs is its own reward. They hit a sweet spot that’s hard to find nowadays: endless replayability.
The band’s hometown of Denton might exist in the rural reaches of North Texas, but Mind Spiders’ punk pedigree doesn’t lend itself to small-town anger and frustration. Instead, befitting Denton’s college-town atmosphere, the group comes across as the ultimate party act. Their 2010 self-titled debut seeped with raucous power, and they largely continue with the same ingredients here: wall-of-sound guitars, drum machine-like rhythms, cheesy keyboard accents, and lead singer Mark Ryan’s winking confidence.
Tracks like “You Are Dead” and “Play Out Out” are brilliant in their simplicity, charging ahead with little in the way of dynamics. They’re essentially the same song, right down to the four-on-the-floor rhythms and shout-along choruses. Yet Mind Spiders have a way with melodies that few punk bands can claim. “More Than You” plays up the group’s garage-pop affinity, slowing the tempo down discreetly to allow Ryan to croon the pseudo-ballad. Those mid-Sixties roots pop up continuously in the form of the ever-present organ, which turns straight-ahead rockers like “Upside Down” into campy earworms. “Fall In Line” splits the difference between Mind Spiders’ influences, building a jagged rave-up on top of a motorik rhythm.
An album this fun has no reason for being a capital-A “Album,” and yet the group makes two distinct halves that play off one another. While the first seventeen minutes fly by with a sugary blur, shadows slowly overtake the second half. Before the record concludes with the titular meltdown, three minor-key warning shots sound the alarm. All three songs feature squiggly keyboards and clock in exactly at 3:16 apiece; it might be pure luck, but I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s a wry braininess controlling Meltdown’s beating heart, and that careful construction pays off once the title track begins its instrumental chaos. Feedback methodically overtakes the same single staccato note that kicks off the record, linking front to back in one continuous loop. Here, Mind Spiders achieve what every delirious party-goer wants: a celebration that stretches to infinity.
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