Release date: 4 June 2021 Label: The Sign Records
Named after the orb-weaver spider, Nephila spin sweet melodies to the tune of 70s space rock. The solitary single they have released, Growing Down, has a bit of everything from psychedelia to folk to fuzzy technicolor classic rock. And the music definitely matches the mood. Dim lighting, patterned and silken clothes, and a mask on five of the seven members make for a soft and coy aesthetic. The large group started small as a few friends from high school in Arvika, Sweden. Over time, new friends came, and with them came new members until the seven-piece was complete. Now as a band, they won the national contest Livekarusellen in 2019 and got noticed. This got them happily signed with The Sign Records, along with Children of the Sün, guitarist Hellenrud’s other band. Nephila are now releasing their first album, the self-titled Nephila.
White Bones, a previous single, starts with a funky organ and subtle bass riff that lingers. The powerful vocal combination of Asker and Olsson mixes the stylings of both modern and Woodstock-era singers. An unexpected guitar solo halfway through keeps the listener on their toes as they try to keep up with this whirlwind. There is something about the reverb here that makes this track sound like long-time professionals performing live on an older recording. This really enhances the overall mood and is an impressive feat for a band so new. Who Are You wastes no time to begin with a peppy guitar and gently wandering organ that harmonizes nicely. When the vocals come in, the guitar and organ match their rhythm, giving them the floor. This is greatly appreciated as Asker and Olsson are phenomenal here, pulling out a few soulful notes when not singing chilling verses.
Slowly creeping out, Mushroom Creatures has an indistinct bass and drums lead up to the stilted and selectively wavering vocals. Halfway through, the metronome-like drums under a fuzzy guitar change up the sound, and when the vocals return, it feels the same but somehow… bigger. Belladonna, the second previous single, invites you in with a soft organ under a spacey melody. The vocals are lovely but mysterious, putting a spell on the listener and beckoning one closer like a siren song. Suddenly, the pace quickens, all players readying themselves until a cathartic release with Asker and Olsson harmonizing “Belladonna!” before the beautiful chorus. Of course, no rock song is complete without a guitar solo, but this one is simple and soothing, a guitar duet above the soft organ. The main focus here is that terrific chorus that will have a listener putting this track on repeat.
A more rock n’ roll vibe is present on Guidance to Agony, the third and previous single. The beat is easy to sway to, the drums barely corralling in the rolling vocals and electric notes from the guitars. This track is floaty and almost dream-like, like catching the tune of a song you barely know from a quiet radio. The vocals are comforting and mystical, their usual haunting sound accentuated by the ever-present organ. In direct contrast, Clavata is an explosion of energy with rockin’ guitars and soulful vocals. The bass and organ make a good pair here, taking places as the rhythmic focus. There is a lull near the end that allows for a quick rest before rocking out again. While shortest on the album, this track has some of the best energy.
The final track is Alla Galaxers Centrum, a spacious and cozy track held up by minimal drumbeats and an absent-minded guitar tuned to sound close to the great Elvis Presley. The vocals here are in Swedish and sung slowly, almost lovingly. Bit by bit, the rest of the band joins in, morphing into a quick-paced but still hushed rock beat. The vocals match this energy, and the back and forth continues, voice and instrument lightly egging each other on. Finally, a guitar breaks the tension, its impassioned solo followed by a somewhat imposing bass and ever-looming drums. Like magic, the track returns to its full lustre, bigger and bolder and demanding you to feel something. This nine-minute epic is a breath of fresh air and a battlecry all at the same time.
A Final Word
Though they may be new, Nephila show incredible promise with their modern take on classic psychedelic rock. Fans of Jefferson Airplane and Stevie Nicks who have been missing passionate vocals over a less-manufactured guitar will definitely love Nephila. More modern artists like Rosalie Cunningham and Jess and the Ancient Ones are also definitely adjacent to Nephila in the classic psych-inspired genre. Big things are surely in the future for Nephila and their incredible self-titled debut is a must for any psych collection.
- Josephine Asker (she/her) – Vocals
- Stina Olsson (she/her) – Vocals
- Jacob Hellenrud (he/him) – Guitar
- Anton Athley (he/him) – Guitar
- David Press (he/him) – Bass
- Johan Lööf (he/him) – Drums
- Johan Larsson (he/him) – Organ
- White Bones
- Who Are You
- Mushroom Creatures
- Guidance to Agony
- Alla Galaxers Centrum