Surrounded - The Nautilus Years

Surrounded are very happy to veer off into their own universe and are happy to take you along for the ride - but only on their own very specific terms.

Label: One Little Indian

Rating: 7

Surrounded inhabit the same kind of off-kilter, surreal planet as The Flaming Lips and Super Furry Animals, where everything is a little bit woozy and dreamy and definitely not entirely of this world. In fact, this theme is evident from even the opening track ’21st Century Traveller’ with its spaceman came travelling type lyrics (‘And I had plans/For travelling planets/To revolve around things/In blinking searchplanes’).

It’s a mighty relief on the fourth track when singer Marten Rydell finally ditches his Mercury Rev-style distorted vocals and you get to hear his honey-dripping warm voice ‘au natural’ for the first time. It’s hard to know what exactly he’s trying to convey on most of the tracks though as the lyrics are all strictly surreal (‘Human victory eclipses/I see lonely ships/At the horizon something blinks’) - but then again, it can’t always be ‘She Loves You’ simplicity, can it?

For us, it’s the tracks that don’t attempt to be too obscure that are the most successful; ‘The Oceanographer’ is a thing of shimmering, simple beauty, pared right down to Marten’s breathy vocals and a ghostly nursery rhyme piano backing, about taking a trip to escape from the world and its woes (‘Along the ocean lanes… /Now happily divorced/From burdened shores’).

Like the aforementioned Flaming Lips, Surrounded are very happy to veer off into their own universe and are happy to take you along for the ride - but only on their own very specific terms. The Lips‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ is most comparable to ‘The Nautilus Years’ as both records are based around strong concepts which you either embrace or not - and just occasionally it’s possible to feel like you’re a little lost at sea on Surrounded’s epic adventure.