REVIEW: Mean Red Spiders: Still Life Fast Moving
Mean Red Spiders: Still Life Fast Moving [Clairecords, 2002]
Three words? Dreamy summer days.
The Mean Red Spiders released their third album Still Life Fast Moving back in October of 2002, but as we pass the one-year anniversary, the record retains its shimmering summer feel. The group's sound is a combination of light breeze with bright rays of sun, a mix of singer Lisa Nighswander's soft and dreamy voice on top of flowing instrumental sounds. This blend encompasses an eclectic range of musics, from lounge to lullaby to ambient and upbeat danceable songs. There's a melancholy vibe, but it's not a bring-down sadness; instead, the Mean Red Spider seem to be advocates of a more laid-back philosophy: "Life can suck, let's go groove." Somehow the name Still Life Fast Moving starts to make sense after repeated listenings.
The opening track, "First and Only," starts us off in an upbeat and almost poppy manner. It's as if the Spiders want to prove that they are capable of producing a song for mainstream radio. Regardless, the track is lovely. Lisa Nighswander's voice is super sweet and melodious, and mixes beautifully with the rhythms created behind it. Whether she's singing lyrics or just oohing along, her voice is what sets the opening tone for the Spiders.
After the first track, the Spiders start going in all sorts of different directions. They slow things down right away on "Advance to Illinois," bringing in the ambient guitar and other instruments that are used throughout the album. While Nighswander's vocals are what initially stick out, it is the harmony of the varying parts that emerge as the Mean Red Spiders' foremost strength. The two fully instrumental tracks are especially wondrous: the slow buildup and never-ending crescendos on "Chinese Wall Declaration," along with the ghostly entrance to "First and Only (Reprise)," form my favorite moments of the CD.
The Spider's manipulate their noise into fluid and occasionally enthralling soundscapes. As with most fully atmospheric bands, if the listener isn't willing to take in all the sounds it can become a little grating on the ears. On the other hand, the more into the music you are, the more beautiful it can become. Still Life Fast Moving was a big step for the Spiders in developing a clarity and fullness to their sound. If they keep this up, they are guaranteed to impress.