Sweat It Out

Pink Spiders

By third track “Seventeen Candles,” the Pink Spiders have shown their devotion to exaggerated variety-show production. Nothing wrong there: From the Sweet to Hot Hot Heat, countless bands have flirted with letting the excitement of a shifting arrangement drive the content of a song, until you have little segments that live or die on actor-like affectations and cleverly overdubbed atmosphere. But how much to subsume the musicians’ talents to the cause of the Big Show? Naturally for the age of post-ironic punk-pop, Nashville’s Spiders dare to play it real close to the edge. The embrace of the risk adds excitement to their best moments. Some good roaring (guitar wall-of-sound bridge to “Gimme Chemicals”; strut-riff-with-piano for “Falling with Every Step”), or a tantalizing resemblance to ’80s hit “Wild, Wild West,” make for engaging counterpoint with, say, a thoughtful sidebar about Jack Daniels. But someone here prefers the pursuit of the perfectly twiddled soundroom knob instead of pushing the band members to make themselves consistently stand out from their own record … and thus, from the crowd. —T.E. Lyons