Science tells us that the Pterodactyl was a flying, beaked dinosaur. In other words, some freakish looking creature with wings, which could be mistaken for anything from a bat with Psoriasis to an iguana in a Toucan Sam costume. It most likely squawked. For a band as tremendously eclectic as this Brooklyn via Ohio pysch-folk-pop three-piece, the name of a winged dinosaur is as fitting as anything I could ever dream up. Though an iguana in a Toucan Sam costume also works.
Pterodactyl is an enigmatic Brooklyn via Ohio three-piece, but that’s about all I’ve been able to gather. Their website looks like this. It has a picture of cute puppies playing that clicks through to a definition of cannibalism. Make what you will.
Their record, Spills Out, is a triumphant display of map-spanning psychedelic folk-pop. It’s part Dodos polyrhythmic math-folk, part Liars drone-punk, part Sun City Girls no-wave psych, part Akron/Family tribal jam, some Beatles harmonies, even a little tube-amp-heated Walkmen, and yes a lot of Beach Boys by way of the Animal Collective (oh, hey Yeasayer).
But the thing that’s great about Pterodactyl, is that they meld all these occasionally arduous, artful influences into something that is actually genuinely FUN to listen to while also maintaining a level of enticing difficulty without sounding contrived or stupid. The music is rooted in experimental avant-pop, with textures, harmonies, and death chants abound, but never fails to flirt pretty heavily with straight-up pop, which makes for a pleasurable listen.
Take a song like “Zombies”, a harmony fueled, droney, dark post-rock-pop track, with lead singer Joe Kramer wailing away like a nasely-er version of the Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser in between flickering electric guitar, pounding toms, washed out crash cymbals, unidentifiable squeals, and sunny harmony hiccups. There’s just so much packed in there, it’s hard to know where to start. It’s tribal Mercury Rev on a fuzzed-out ’60s classic-rock kick. Pterodactyl’s sound most figuratively Spills Out. Drink up and enjoy.
Essential Tracks: “The Break”, “Allergy Shots”, and “Aphasia”