Their last release on Kanine, Tarot Classics offers a brief glimpse of where Surfer Blood is headed before moving to the major-label world. The band sounds far cleaner than they did on their endearingly hazy debut Astro Coast and relying less on the dreamy, lo-fi surf reverb that crested on songs like “Swim.” This time, they deliver a more focused attack and developed songwriting, particularly on “I’m Not Ready,” where the drums pack more of a punch and the song morphs from chugging verses to a tumbling breakdown that still conjures towering waves. “Miranda,” meanwhile, shows that the band hasn’t forgotten that crunchy riffs and sweet harmonies go together like chocolate and peanut butter. This bittersweet punk-pop recalls ‘90s alt-rock instead of the Beach Boys allusions that haunted Astro Coast, and finds the band sounding more like Weezer than ever, underscoring why they were chosen to tour with the Pixies. However, on the EP’s last two songs, Surfer Blood venture into less-known territory: “Voyager Reprise” soars into space with an expansive intro, sparkling synths, and a more subdued feel, while “Drinking Problem” coasts along on a looping, almost Krautrock-inspired rhythm, more synths, and a droning melody; only John Paul Pitts' croon and the band’s distinctive high-pitched basslines make it recognizably Surfer Blood. While it may not sound familiar, it does sound good, as do the remixes of “Voyager Reprise” by Another Summer of Love and “Drinking Problem” by Speculator. While Astro Coast's nostalgia is missed, Tarot Classics finds Surfer Blood showing more potential to create something unique than their debut suggested.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares