Here's a pro tip for any band aspiring to be good. When you find a sound that works, stick with it. Maybe tweak it a bit here, scruff it up there, but make sure you stay true to the core. This is a lesson that Surf City have learned; their third album, Jekyll Island, is proof. After hitting the sweet spot between meandering guitar workouts and concise indie rock/pop gems on their second record, We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This, Surf City stay rooted there, cranking out a batch of songs that sound gnarly enough to please people who like their pop songs fuzzy and twisty, while delivering enough hooky melodies and singalong choruses to make fans of memorable songs happy too. Kicking off with the insistently sunny "Beat the Summer Heat," the band rambles along in full control of the proceedings, adding a little bit of frantic noise on "Jekyll Island and the Psychosphere," some acoustic guitars on the Go-Betweens-y "One Too Many Things," and thickly swirling organ on "The End." Some subtle changes to the sound, just enough to feel like some small progression from previous albums. They also drop more than a handful of tracks that hit hard and stick; the charging "Hollow Veins," the aforementioned "Summer Heat," and "Spec City" all have the feel of classics. Like they'll end up on mixes, come back to mind at random times, and be the kind of songs you want to share with friends and strangers alike. The only slight flaw with the album is the thin sound -- could the album have been recorded on an old sun-warped cassette tape? Maybe, but it doesn't detract much from the overall impressive nature of Jekyll Island. If anything, it adds a little more oddball charm. Third albums are often career-killers, exposing a band's lack of ideas. No worries here, though; Surf City sound like they still have another few years of greatness left in them.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra