Album Review: Surfer Blood’s “Astro Coast”

I have been badgered and badgered endlessly by a trusted friend to listen to this album. After trusting him about Real Estate’s debut LP (which I would give a 1/10, the review is below) I was skeptical. Not to mention pissed that I had been convinced to spend $10 I don’t have on an album I don’t like. Nevertheless, he finally convinced me, so I gave it a spin.

Unlike Real Estate’s record, this one does not hide poor songwriting behind a veneer of post-productions. Surfer Blood’s “Astro Coast” is bold and straightforward. There’s neither a metaphor nor a simile in the lyrics throughout the whole album, which, for this this sort of punky music is ideal. Another point at which this LP delivers where Real Estate’s leaves wanting is in the melody-making. There are actual fucking melodies! Granted, they could easily be riffs you’d hear on a Weezer (sorry, boys, the comparison is too obvious) or a Jet record, but they are catchy nonetheless.

For anyone who’s seen Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii DVD, in which are excerpts from their time spent in the studio turning knobs and pushing buttons for the making of “Dark Side of the Moon,” Waters is quoted as saying something to affect of, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s important to not allow new technology take control of you. While I certainly think that Surfer Blood successfully avoided the temptation to make an overly-reverby “surf” album, I’m not totally sold on this one. It’s good, but it’s really not great. The single, “Swim,” is terrific but entirely unoriginal. Since recorded music is unavoidably temporal, I imagine a scenario where this LP was released in 2001 and I feel differently about it. Unfortunately for Surfer Blood I can’t say that I’d go back in time and spend $10 on this album. “Swim” is worth 99 cents, though – that’s a fact, Jack. (And, the final track, “Catholic Pagans” contains a brutal and unabashed honesty that I appreciate.) To compound an underwhelming review of the band, the same friend who recommended I listen to “Astro Coast” sent me a review of their recent performance at DC9 in Washington, DC. The reviewer was about as taken by the show as I was by the album. Overall, decent, but I’m not cumming all over myself in anticipation for either a follow-up release or a live show. -DFH


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