Contour & Context
Unlike their poisonous namesake, Brown Recluse doesn’t pack a lot of venom on their 2009 EP The Soft Skin. Instead, their sound is sweetly insinuating, suggestive of a more naïve Belle & Sebastian with some Herb Alpert horn frosting added. A certain paisley-colored tone can be discerned as well, redolent of the milder side of British psychedelia. Founding members Timothy Meskers and Mark Saddlemire are adept at unfolding dense (but not cluttered) arrangements within a few short minutes, favoring languid-to-jaunty trumpets and bubbly electric pianos set against crisp drum work. The mood here is bittersweet and romantic, though the band’s lyrics are impressionistic enough to make specific situations unclear. “Rotten Tomatoes” and “Rainy Sunday” are the aural equivalent of mentholated body wash, bracing but gentle. “Night Train” and “Contour and Context” are a bit more assertive, with the latter boasting a clap-along folkie feel. Overall, The Soft Skin is enticing enough to justify a full-length album the next time Brown Recluse venture of their lair.