As much as Pterodactyl would like you to think they’re noise-punk brats, the garbage disposal churn and incessant clangor of their past albums have always been embedded in nerdish merriment—they really get a kick out of seeing what noises can come out of, say, a toy keyboard. But on their third album, Spills Out, the congestion serves to obscure lyrics about failed relationships and the death of a loved one.
To match the album's open-book feel, the band has opened up to more aspects of pop. Age-old traditions are re-imagined in junkyard clatter, with guitars, Wurlitzers, ukuleles, the aforementioned toy keyboard and possessed drumming piled on top. “The Hole Night” is a slow-burning psych freak-out that calls to mind The Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” while the bright, trembling guitar runs on “Searchers” might as well have been cherry-picked from Vampire Weekend’s debut. But there are weirder references too, like how the ominous Middle Eastern tones of “Allergy Shots” recall Christmas hymn "We Three Kings," made all the more odd with a swinging Fosse-like melody worming around underneath.
Even with frontman Joe Kremer shrieking less than on previous albums, the monolithic recording—to the point where sometimes it sounds like there are two tracks playing at once—is a lot to process. Spills Out sounds like a band throwing up rainbows, basically. When “Thorn” rolls around halfway through, you’re ready for a change, but with its dueling overdubbed guitars and doomsday pandemonium, it’s not the change you’re hoping to hear. It can be trying to listen to all in one sitting, but Spills Out crams in an awful lot of good ideas, and even more personality.