Surfer Blood - Pythons

The main issue with this album is that it is not terrible and it is not brilliant.

Surfer Blood first emerged in 2010, cruising along atop the lo-fi-surf-pop-beach-punk wave. It’s a mean feat to handle – firstly that’s a lot of adjectives there to stay on top of. It’s also a rather crowded ocean, with all kinds of other chancers dropping in on Surfer Blood’s wave, man. The Drums, Best Coast, Tennis, – any other band with four chords and a gnarly story to tell - all these youngsters purveyed something extremely similar. Triumphing over the rest with scuzzled reverb and intricate sunset flavoured riffery, debut album ‘Astro Coast’ was wave after wave of echo; a messy but altogether likeable record.

Rowdy anthem ‘Swim’ has become synonymous with Surfer Blood, and so it is a little disarming when follow up album ‘Pythons’ kicks off with the decidedly clean-sounding ‘Demon Days’ instead. The tangled, salted, tresses have been trimmed and plumped into slick quiffs, the two day old stubble has been eradicated. John Paul Pitts’ growling vocals are all but gone too, replaced with higher register crooning, and the occasional sickly sweet refrain of ‘woo-oo-ooo’. As the theme continues into the next few songs, it’s already sounding less like something exciting and raw. ‘Pythons’, so far, would be right at home sound tracking a ‘rad’ beach party on ‘90210‘ attended primarily by generic Abercrombie wearing tweenagers sampling their first taste of beery contraband from a Red Solo Cup.

‘Weird Shapes’ – the already-unveiled cut from ‘Pythons’ – is more interesting, with meandering melodies and some welcome roaring vocals peeping in occasionally, a reminder of the Surfer Blood we thought we knew. Instead of harking to Nirvana, though, the drum line is far more reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian’s ‘I Didn’t See It Coming’, and while Surfer Blood haven’t gone completely twee on us, they certainly lack the bite of their debut.

‘Pythons’ has a kind of charm to it, though, in the same way as an old cuddly toy that makes irritating squeaking noises but has a really cute little face. Try as you might, you can’t bring yourself to throw it in the bin. ‘Say Yes To Me’ and ‘I Was Wrong’ are not scuzzy and flecked with dirt, but it’s nigh on impossible to forget their melody, just as it’s hard not to think nostalgically of American pop-punk straight afterwards. These two songs are fittingly named too, because this is an album that evokes an instant “no” response. Yet listening to it a few more times, the temptation to be overly negative fades away. The main issue with this album is that it is not terrible and it is not brilliant. It is simply there. It’s hard to feel anything other than nonchalance towards ‘Pythons’.

Tags: Surfer Blood, Reviews, Album Reviews

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