Dan Webb and the Spiders - Perfect Problem (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Dan Webb and the Spiders

Perfect Problem (2015)

Gunner Records

Everyone has a go-to coffee shop, café, or bar; a place where the tunes are good and so is the atmosphere. That place for me is Fuel Café, a part bike-themed and part hipster-punk hot spot in Milwaukee. When I picture waiting in line during the Saturday lunch rush at Fuel, Dan Webb and the Spiders is exactly the sort of music I imagine playing over the speakers. Something you’ve never heard before, but somehow still pleasantly familiar. Something not too hostile or abrasive for the older crowd, but something lo-fi or unique enough to appeal to judicious young punks. That’s Dan Webb and the Spiders: pop-punk, but with enough garage-rock grunge to keep things from getting too poppy.

Dan Webb and the Spiders are Boston-based garage-punkers signed to German label Gunner Records. The band put out a singles collection and an acoustic album in 2014 before beginning a long recording process on their fourth album that spanned nearly a year of time and three different studios. The result, Perfect Problem, is a cohesive 12-track collection that captures the straight-forward, rocking approach of Webb’s songwriting, and has that perfect mix of grungy, fuzzy guitars with a slightly polished production.

“Happy songs about sad things” is the description of the album on the press release, and that’s about as specific as an accurate description can get. At times, the band goes for an eccentric take on pop-rock akin to Sundials, but they head a little more towards grungy rock-n-roll on other songs. There are elements of earlier Weezer in some fuzzy beach-punk found on a couple tracks, too. Dan Webb has a great voice for the style -- not too off key, but a little gritty and unrefined. He aptly matches the level of each song with his voice. On rockers “Not Stoked on Trent” and “Broken Things,” he gives a sort of weary rock-n-roll affectation, while on more pop-punk numbers like the titular track, he’s gives the rough melody of an early Dan Andriano. He keeps his lyrics pretty generic (“You say you can’t wait to see me/ You say you can’t wait to be me near me/ But I know you/ and I know that you’re not true” is a pretty standard example), but at times he elevates it for a little more specificity, and the songs are better for it. The standout of the album, “A Loan," gets specific and personal, and it makes the song immediately more engaging than the others.

Perfect Problem is the perfect punk coffee-shop album. It’s not one that will be making huge waves in any scene, but it doesn’t have a dull track and is consistently catchy and rocking from start to finish.