September 8, 2013

Surfer Blood, "Pythons"

The mid-90s never went away, they just grew up and learned how to properly engineer a recording. And of all the bands milking the melodic, two-guitar indie pop thing, Surfer Blood sits near the top of the heap. Pythons, the new one from the Florida quartet, isn't as strong as their debut, 2010's Astro Coast. But that's a very tough record to follow up, and this new one is a vibrant work in its own right. Pythons digs in right from the top. The first four or five tunes are all mini masterpieces, mixing jangle and shine with genuine run-and-hide screaming distortion. The songs teeter-totter between modes and emotions as they move through the verses, choruses, bridges, weird asides. And as good as the first half is, the second half is better. (I own it on vinyl and I've been playing it out-of-sequence, putting on side B first, then side A.) There's a lovely melancholy wash over "Blair Witch" and "Needles and Pins," and the three-four swing of "Slow Six" suggests some forgotten country ballad that's been rediscovered by a bunch of dudes in Topsiders and Ray-Bans. Of course, I don't know what Surfer Blood dresses like, and I don't care. The record's just really good. I was joking the other day that SB'd brand of clearly-sung, sincere pop sits somewhere between Roy Orbison and The Smiths. So here you have it: Roy Morrissey music. Dig it.