Astro Coast

Surfer Blood

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Astro Coast Review

by Heather Phares

The resurgence of surf music in indie rock is an odd, but mostly wonderful, thing. After all, it’s one of the few styles that hasn’t been reinvented to death by subsequent generations of bands after its early-‘60s heyday; by the time the Beach Boys started making albums like Pet Sounds, they were retreating from the beach. Surfer Blood are from Florida -- not exactly the best place to hang ten, despite the tropical weather. However, on Astro Coast they take the sweet melodies of surf-pop to heart, evoking other California boys like Weezer and Pavement with big drums and riffs that dive right into the instant gratification center of the brain. “Floating Vibes”’ fuzzy chords and unexpected strings radiate sun and sand, while “Swim”’s tidal wave-sized reverb adds old-school surf drama to the song’s indelible choruses. While Surfer Blood pay proper respect to the roots of their music with “Take It Easy”’s lilting melody -- which sounds like it could be equally at home in ‘50s rock or ‘90s alt-pop as it is here -- and with the bouncy instrumental “Neighbour Riffs,” their appeal isn’t just nostalgic. Their walls of sound owe as much to Kevin Shields as they do to the Phil Spector era, especially on “Harmonix,” where the echoes that whoosh through the song feel completely modern, as do the surreal lyrics on “Twin Peaks.” Surfer Blood can slow down and stretch out just as well as they deliver breezy pop. “Slow Jabroni” puts the focus on John Paul Pitts’ sweetly boyish vocals for most of its expanse, until it culminates in thundering drums that would do “Wipeout” proud. Despite the quirky wordplay in the album closer, “Catholic Pagans,” there’s an innocence to Surfer Blood's lyrics and music that feels like a reaction to the increasingly cerebral bent of indie rock in the 2000s, and Astro Coast plays like a breath of fresh air.

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