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Surfer Blood – Pythons album review

Since 2009, when ‘Swim’ was released upon the masses Surfer Blood has been tearing through the alt rock world picking up accolade after accolade.  It’s safe to say that this is not always a blessing for a new artist—if you have your whole life to think about, write and re-write your debut, what happens in act two?  NO pressure.

Pythons is, for the most part, a strong subsequent effort.  Thick, muddy guitar and seamless transitions point to the notion that they have evolved as a group.  The songs as a whole are darker, more dramatic, less summer jams-y and come across like the kind of music you’d hear from a band with understanding.  Perhaps they’re finding their stride or maybe the EP in the middle (2011) ignited something, but Pythons is clear proof of musical maturity.  Their instruments even sound different, and all twelve tracks seem markedly deliberate: carefully formed, repeatedly rehearsed, and tonally measured. In fact, at times the album almost sounds like an ideal—as though a leading expert on alternative rock was asked to produce a sample for future students of the form.  This is not a critique of tightness mind you, as mentioned they have done their homework, but some of their distinct, textural weirdness does seem to be missing.  See Astro Coast’s ‘Take it Easy.’

What may be lacking in musical oddity, however, is compensated for in the lyrics, and possibly not in model form. A basic reading yields a few clichés and some bleeding heart storytelling.  They’re all a little bizarre, and in light of last summer’s domestic battery arrest it’s difficult not to read into John Pitt’s lyrics “some secrets you should never tell they’ll feed you to the hounds of hell.”  But, that inclination is somewhat arbitrary as the charges were dropped and there’s really no way to know the whole story.  Plus, it seems like a trap to delve too deeply into the lyrics of pop music.

As (full length) second albums go, Pythons is a successful one.  It’s charged, clean and true to form—a thriving Surfer Blood has emerged.

By Erin Ginder-Shaw

Erin Ginder-Shaw is a writer from the East Bay who loves scribbling about music and listening to words.

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