Imagine that the vocalist of Melpo Mene replaced those of MGMT and they all went on an underwater psychedelic adventure. It may seem implausible, but it’s the scene that is set by Brown Recluse’s Evening Tapestry, the Philadelphia six-piece’s full-length debut. Sprinkled with mellowed-out surf guitar and a sea-worthy organ, the album is a ball of sunshine fit for a summer day.
Brown Recluse creates smart indie pop along the same lines of Vampire Weekend and Belle And Sebastian. The album itself is a tapestry of vocals and instrumentation, with lots of extended instrumental breaks, woven with flutes, horns, tambourine and xylophone along with the standard guitar, bass, keyboard and drum foundation of each track.
The brainchild of Timothy Meskers and Mark Saddlemire, Brown Recluse has undergone quite a few changes since its start in 2006. From taking “Sings” off the end of its name, to its expansion to a six-piece, the group’s identity has morphed, but its influences have remained the same and prevalent as ever in its recordings. Brian Wilson-like sunshine production can be found on every track of Evening Tapestry as well as keyboards that replicate the organ employed on the Zombies’ albums.
Meskers’ vocals perfectly fit with the accompaniment of the tracks, not overly powerful but light with octave-higher harmonization. “Golden Sun” really shows off the group’s harmonies while keeping the accompaniment to just keyboards, bass and drums so as not to overcrowd the track. This sort of smart arrangement is evident throughout Evening Tapestry, paying homage to Phil Spector’s early work without the massive, glossed-over sound.
When the vocals aren’t there to guide the music, the organ-esque keyboard steps in. The instrument creates its own melodic lines, even when the vocals are present, creating contrast and tension to drive the album and the instrumental breaks. The upbeat “Monday Moon” features the keyboard in an extended outro that lasts long after the vocals subside, keeping the listener interested by changing up the melodies rather than pressing “repeat” for an extra minute or so.
Though easy to peg a purely pop album, with only one track that dares to venture beyond the 3:30 mark, Evening Tapestry’s controlled psychedelic overtones help the songs go beyond run-of-the-mill pop tunes.