ALBUM REVIEW: Surfer Blood bleeds summertime

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First Posted: 6/24/2013

Flooding summertime with dreamy, upbeat surf pop rock tunes, Surfer Blood’s new LP, “Pythons,” is making alternative waves. Released by Sire Records on June 7, just in time to put the windows down on the daily commute or crank up on the beach, this LP is the most fitting new release for the season. Blending The Shins with Wavves while adding in just enough bits of rock to accentuate the mellow characteristics of the LP, Surfer Blood is doing everything they need to do to not just pull off alternative surf pop rock, but to add to and expand the genre.

“Demon Dance” sets the tone for the rest of the LP by opening with an explosion of upbeat guitar matched perfectly with easygoing vocals, gliding over chorus lyrics like, “I could be the one who cuts down the overgrowth,” ending with plenty of “la la’s” and “oo’s” in whistling, surf style.

The next few songs follow suit, keeping the mood light and dancing until “I Was Wrong,” the most lyrically-minded masterpiece on the album that starts off a little darker and moves a little more slowly than its predecessors. One of the best moments in the album comes at the end of the song, when muffled vocals harshly shout, “I was wrong!” because it contrasts the rest of the album’s soft vocals, yet fits perfectly and exhibits a range of ability for Surfer Blood.

Musicality is accomplished in sensible surf composition throughout the LP, but mixed lyrical emotion seems to be the only issue that makes the album less whole to a very intent listener. The vocalist, John Paul Pitts, seems awfully conflicted throughout the album, as to whether he should be apologetic, accusing, keep trying, or let things go, exhibited in the line, “If I fell apart, would you stay?” All his personal conflict seeps through the lyrics; there is no clear issue or resolve for the listener to grasp. It sometimes comes off as an autobiography inside the murky, tangled trappings of Pitts’ head, but it can be hard to connect with when the listener isn’t entirely sure what they should be sympathizing with or excited about.

Despite this, “Pythons” is a successful compilation of summertime sounds with some catchy, quotable lyrics, but if you’re trying to enjoy the sunshine, it might be best to take the lyrical content as lightly as the music itself.

Surfer Blood ‘Pythons’ Rating: W W W V