Because the Pee Is Silent

Pterodactyl / Spills Out (Brah)

“We’re about people being able to take whatever they’ve created and make it their own,” says Pterodactyl guitarist-singer Joe. “That’s not unique in the indie rock world, but there are a lot of bands that are more about entertainment. Pterodactyl has never been about that –– for better or worse.”

Spills Out, Joe and drummer Matt’s recent, third album, is a bewilderingly eclectic, um, journey that roams far and wide through the indie-rock thump of “School Glue” and “Searchers” to ambient arcaneness like “Spills Out” and the tribal neo-psychedelicisms of “Aphasia” and “Allergy Shots.” You’ll be scratching your head as you bounce to its pumped-up peculiarities.

“In the beginning,” says Joe, “there was a central core where our focus was making this shredding stuff with this grating energy to it, and trying to create funny sounds with instruments in unconventional ways. But with this last record we took a step away from that to make something that would fit in more of a classic feeling. We set out to make songs.”

Even so, the Brooklyn-based band’s new album wasn’t launched into with any overarching concept; it was more about discovering songs as they developed, a drawn-out process that proved exhausting but satisfying. The result is a batch of tunes that are easily accessible, mainly owing to their catchy strands of ‘80s-90s punk and indie rock bravado, but also to myriad twisted references to classic sounds from the ‘60s and ‘70s, Beatles-ish backup vocal arrangements and Hammond organ sounds.

“We took that focus and fed it through this weird filter with the intent of making pop music,” says Joe. “We approached with a ‘If you build it they will come’ attitude,  like if we make something that doesn’t sound like anything else, then there’ll be people who’ll say, wow, that’s exciting!”

Could be that cannabis appreciators might be Pterodactyl’s biggest fans.

“A lot of the songs on this record are like explorations of a little idea,” says Joe, “and there’s an obsessive quality to certain details. “

You certainly get a hefty load of deets in the video for “School Glue” (featuring members of Parts and Labor, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Ex-Models), a shot-by-shot remake of the first Superman movie. And then there’s the video for “The Break,” made from 1,500 still photos that flash before your eyes at five photos a second –– a Prince record cover, a Balinese gamelan orchestra, a used condom in the street, a graveyard in New Orleans…

“The Break” is, says Joe, an experience that mental mariners can surely relate to –– though of course one isn’t required to do anything but listen to the music. “Ultimately , it’s all circles and pictures with a bright light in the center of the photograph. And that’s all it is, just obsessing with this one little idea.”

One’s appreciation for these videos’ hypnotic attention to detail might depend on one’s willingness to have one’s mind permanently blown. “The Break” is especially intense.

Matt laughs. “We’re not trying to hurt anybody!”

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