High Tide and Low Tide

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The brothers Joe Tabu and God (real names Florian and Gregor Dietz) make up Surf, and they certainly don't skimp when it comes to a debut release consisting of two CDs. Wisely, though, they don't try to maxi-pack both discs, so it's not as overwhelming a way to start as one might think -- and even better, the music's simply grand. The brothers' chief influence is turn of the decade '70s-into-'80s techno-pop and disco, and anyone taken by the likes of similar revivals and reinterpretations by Junior Senior and Ladytron could well enjoy this. There's a thematic division between the discs, with "High Tide" containing the propulsive uptempo numbers and "Low Tide" a generally calmer but not danker counterpart. Working with a number of guests on mostly vocals (but on other instruments as well -- humorously, one credit reads "tubular bells: a man who didn't tell us his name"), the two whip up both soaring, sweetly epic winners and equally entrancing moodouts with aplomb. "High Tide" starts out with a near-perfect confection in "Soleil" and merrily makes its way from there, touching everything from vocodered Earth, Wind & Fire-into-Daft Punk ("Join In") to an ultimate kind of ELO tribute that rivals Super Furry Animals' "Juxtaposed With U," "Lost in the Waves." There's even a cover of the White Noise jazz/psych obscurity "Firebird" that's particularly fun (and very Chicory Tip). In contrast, "Low Tide" aims for an ambling melancholia that's not gothed out, more just a sweet breezy sigh that's like a late-afternoon stroll along a busy resort beachside as the colder night air starts to blow. At least that's what songs like "Drifter" and the country/robot flow of "Long Promised Road" suggest. Meanwhile, "Bed of Sand" is an intriguing collaboration -- though he doesn't sing the vocals, David Thomas of Pere Ubu provided the lyrics. Credit as well to the Pink Floyd/Hipgnosis-tweaking cover art, one Wish You Were Here nod in particular.