Last year's acclaimed debut from the Mind Spiders added strategic hints of garage, bubblegum, and glam to the wistful pop-punk of Pete Shelley before blasting it out to the sprawling bedroom communities of North Texas. On Meltdown, bandleader Mark Ryan heads in a more dystopian direction, perhaps a natural progression for a project Ryan initially intended as a studio entity. While there's nothing here that gets its hooks in as deeply as "Don't Let Her Go" from the band's first album (Mind Spiders), Meltdown has its own distinctively skewed set of charms. Quick-burning openers "You Are Dead" and "Beat" wouldn't have been out of place on the first album, but "Fall in Line" clicks along on a steady, nervous beat that ultimately succumbs to harrowing guitar atmospherics. The proto-New Wave undertones that dominate the flip side evoke bored suburban teenage insouciance circa 1981. "Wait for Us" augments the raw power with overdriven synthesizers to masterful effect before the instrumental closing track takes an inebriated punk-rock riff on Jean Michel Jarre, which is a fine place to put this suspended adolescent trip to bed. (Sat., 1am, Valhalla)
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