Sunshiny and warm at first listen, Brown Recluse (named after a poisonous spider for some unfathomable reason) is good at what it does – faithfully reproducing the sounds of indie pop giants like Belle and Sebastian and Of Montreal, even Neutral Milk Hotel at several turns. Well-harmonized, upbeat and catchy, Evening Tapestry succeeds at being a fun background album – a good choice for driving or an afternoon workout. What it does not even begin to do is anything new.
Chord progressions and stylistic tactics that would be excellent if they hadn’t already been done to death before reverberate through the album. Musicianship, talent and style are not at all lacking in the music made by this Philadelphia group but it is all painfully overshadowed by the absurdity of their imitation. One might argue that imitation is the highest form of flattery. But there’s a fine line between adulation and plagiarism, and it’s not too clear whether Brown Recluse has managed to stay on the right side of that demarcation. The listener will be particularly pained at realizing, half-way through Evening Tapestry, that he might as well have been listening to Dear Catastrophe Waitress.
“Impressions of a City Morning” channels “Piazza, New York Catcher” so precisely that it is difficult to find a reason why one should listen to the new version when there is already one that’s tried and true.”Hobble to Your Tomb” and “Statue Garden” bring a light waltz beat in to the music, giving a slight variation to the sound, but not enough to make something new out of it.
Although most of the album is an unnecessary addition to the musical repertoire of the indie-pop scene, Evening Tapestry does have a few winners.
“Monday Moon”, is a success, although still not extraordinary. Brown Recluse finds a good balance in their poppy sound on this track, a direction they might want to pursue further in future endeavors. Unexpected and unique chord progressions and key changes lend some character to this track.
The last two tracks, “Paisley Tears” and “March to Your Tomb”, do well – the former through an ethereal outro and the latter with a seemingly obtrusive but well placed snare rhythm.
Brown Recluse is an obviously talented band. Hopefully on their next effort, they will draw on their capabilities and creativities rather than on previously done-to-death tropes.