The official bio for Brass Bed on the website for its label, Modern Outsider, begins: “There’s no mistaking that Brass Bed is not a young band.”
The title for its latest album, “In The Yellow Leaf,” comes from a Ralph Waldo Emerson essay in which the author was himself quoting Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” in a line that used the image as metaphor for decrepitude, something dry and dying.
It seems like rather morbid language from a group of musicians who are, OK, not babies — “In The Yellow Leaf” is the fourth full-length outing from the Lafayette-formed rock band, and the members are now in their early 30s — but who are surely not yet a bunch of dead leaves.
“Even insofar as rock ’n’ roll is a young man’s game, we’re still fairly young. We’re not an old band,” guitarist Christiaan Mader clarified over the phone on a recent afternoon. The band was in New York City touring in support of “In The Yellow Leaf,” for which they’ll throw an official release party Thursday at Gasa Gasa.
“It was dealing less necessarily with feeling as though we are old, and more like, we’re growing older. It’s more of an engagement with the unconscious process of aging than it is the actual status of being a certain age,” he said, the awareness that time passes, and changes you as it does.
Brass Bed has had a little time to change since its last outing three years ago, the textured noise-pop album “The Secret Will Keep You,” which earned a nice wave of national praise from outlets including NPR Music and the New Yorker.
“The Secret Will Keep You” explored contrast and layers, weaving bright pop melodies with moody synthesizer and psychedelic buzz and fuzz. It earned more than one comparison to the often-experimental rockers Wilco, whose influence on Brass Bed was strong, Mader says, though maybe too much so.
“By the time we discovered Wilco, (frontman Jeff) Tweedy was writing about stuff that was maybe 15 years ahead of us in terms of life experiences, having kids and being married and all of these very adult themes that I don’t know if we really wore very well.”
“In The Yellow Leaf” is still complex and melodic in the Brass Bed pop tradition, but offers up as well some tougher stuff, like the hard guitars that drive the urgent “Mind the Gap” and the booming drums on the heavy, crashing echo chamber “Be Anything.”
Some of the changes in sound were personnel-based. The core of Brass Bed is Mader, drummer Peter DeHart and Jonny Campos, who plays guitar, bass and pedal steel.
“The Secret Will Keep You” — and earlier projects — heavily employed keyboardist Andrew Toups, though Toups didn’t tour for that record; guitarist Ben Jones did instead, necessarily altering the sound. It’s Jones who mostly fills the fourth spot on “In The Yellow Leaf,” beefing up the guitar factor.
“One of the things that’s always happened with this band is we make a record with a certain lineup and invariably we end up touring with different lineup. It by definition reinterprets the record once we hit the road.” (The tradition is going strong; Allison DeHart, Peter’s wife, replaces Jones for now in the current touring version of Brass Bed.)
“It’s interesting to me,” Mader said, “that I feel like we’re actually writing about stuff we can speak to from a certain amount of experience now, whereas before we could not. Before, I think, we were trying to appropriate mature themes. Now we can actually do it, I think, effectively. It’s given us a voice that I didn’t know we had before.”