SURFER BLOOD – Astro Coast (2010)

Quick, how much do you know about Surfer Blood? The answer is probably “not much”, unless you were one of those people (like me) who stumbled upon (and then obsessed over) the single Swim last year. If you’ve heard Swim, then you might have some idea as to what to expect with Astro Coast, the band’s debut album, and the first debut of 2010 from a band who racked up a small tidal wave of e-buzz the year before. Now, Swim drew a lot of comparisons to different bands when it the internet in 2009. Weezer? Yeah, kinda. The Beach Boys? A little bit. Crocodiles? Wavves? Hey, it’s not that crazy. I could go on, but Swim is a song that eludes being pinned down in this manner; it’s entirely its own thing, and (more importantly), it’s the sound of a band swinging for the fences. Given that, it was almost inevitable that Astro Coast would lack the punch of the single that stirred up interest in it.

Astro Coast is mainly comprised of murky, lo-fi oddities; it’s got more in common with Deerhunter than anything else. And while this approach works for the band, I can safely say that Swim remains the album’s best song; it’s a thoroughly elating song, and it hits you on a level that the rest of this material simply doesn’t. And while the barer, poppier songs here (like the Brian Wison-esque opener Floating Vibes) are good enough, I suppose, they simply feel restrained if you pop in Smile or even That Lucky Old Sun. The hazier songs work better, and none moreso than the duo of Fast Jabroni and Slow Jabroni; next to Swim, they are the best thing the album has to offer. They’ve got the same drive as Floating Vibes, but they feel warm and insulated, as if they’re actually passing through a Florida sunset en route to your speakers.

Elsewhere on the album, the band try their hand at toying with Vampire Weekend melodies mixed with blurry synths (Twin Peaks), fuzzy No Age garage rock (Anchorage, a wonderful song that has the focus No Age lack), and yes, even the popular mid-album instrumental interlude (Neighbor Riffs). Overall, Astro Coast gives you the impression that the band were throwing many things against a wall just to see what stuck. A lot of things do stick, but in many ways Astro Coast feels less like an album with a purpose and more like a band trying to pinpoint which direction they want to take with their sound. Though that might sound as though the album is a failure, it really isn’t – Surfer Blood have me on board (albeit not with an overabundance of enthusiasm) for whatever it is they do next.

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One Response to “SURFER BLOOD – Astro Coast (2010)”

  1. […] what is it with lead singles recently? And while we’re at it, what is it with songs named Swim in […]

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