Only one member of Pterodactyl does not have a pterosaur inked somewhere on his body. The tattoos are supposed to be indelible proof that the Brooklyn quartet aren’t just bros, but bros bound by a rare current coursing through every vein of their ultraviolet rock ’n’ roll. It’s also akin to any number of lovers who’ve used the gesture to prove their love.
“But they don’t have to make a record first,” guitarist Joe Kremer says. “All two people in a relationship have to do is fuck one another. It’s easier to regret fucking someone than it is making a record together. At least when you’re done recording, you’ve got a record to show for it. If you have something to show for fucking each other, it’s probably a problem.”
For their trouble, Pterodactyl have Worldwild, a turbulent, chest-bumping chorale fiesta with firefly guitars as coarse and grizzly as a Rocky Mountain beard. Recorded over six long months in 2008, the album signals to something more focused from the once spastic, scattered band they once were. Originally conceived by Kremer and drummer Matt Marlin while at Oberlin College some five or six years ago, early Pterodactyl recordings bear a screechy abrasiveness befitting their winged lizard moniker. “It was more of an experiment before,” says Kremer, who is also a high school physics teacher in Brooklyn. “It was more intellectual. This is much more emotional a lot of the time. I’m afraid to use that word in this economy.”
Recession or depression, all those rivers of emotion are easily traced back to the band’s decision to write vocal parts for all four of its members. Despite Kremer’s concern that they may have lost their longtime growl in search of pretty, nothing sounds wasted. Bottle rocket tracks like “One With Everyone” and “No Sugar” maintain a busted amp, basement show sensibility without eclipsing the campfire choir workouts they’ve learned to tongue-tie to every melody.
“We’ve been trying to get there for a while, but it’s hard to do,” Kremer explains. “There’s all this crazy shit going on all the time, so it’s really hard to stay in control. And we knew Matt had the most beautiful voice. We’ve always known. We just didn’t know how to use it. Matt has the voice of an angel and always has.”
To which Marlin responds, hand over heart: “Guilty.”
Stream: Pterodactyl, Worldwild