We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This
Sep 03, 2013 Web Exclusive
Space rock's been having a bit of an unexpected renaissance recently, what with Hookworms' critically acclaimed Pearl Mystic and now Surf City's sophomore record We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This. Anyone drawn in solely by the band's name and hoping for sticky-sweet Beach Boys-style harmonies and songs about California girls is going to be disappointed: if Surf City falls anywhere on the surf rock spectrum at all, it's definitely more toward the frenzied staccato reverb of Dick Dale than anything else.
Where Hookworms' spacey psychedelia feels somewhat aloof and uptight, New Zealander band Surf City has that quintessentially Australasian laid-back vibe. Opening tracks "It's a Common Life" and "I Had the Starring Role" should be melancholic, with their apathetic, wistful lyrics; instead, they feel carefree and light, backed up as they are by whimsical vocal fills and crunchy, reverb-soaked guitars that are somehow simultaneously earthy and weightless. The album gets gradually more spaced-out and noisy as it goes on—those crunchy guitar riffs morphing into atmospheric walls of sound, swirling keys and echoing guitar hooks melting into each other like a watercolor in the rain—but never relinquishes its bittersweet melodies and pop accessibility in favor of toneless fuzz. It's a little samey at points; the band has its sound and they're sticking to it. But there's enough charm and momentum on We Knew... to carry them through. A chilled-out, longing slice of psych melancholia that's the perfect soundtrack for your remaining stub of summer. (www.surfcity.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 10/10