Jun 20, 2013 Issue #46 - June/July 2013 - Charli XCX
If Surfer Blood's 2010 debut, Astro Coast, conjured a nondescript mid-'90s alternative rock radio sound-pop melodies, crunchy distorted guitars and the occasional multi-part harmony—its follow-up, Pythons, gets more specific. Producer Gil Norton seems to have helped the band focus its energies, landing somewhere around 1995 and referencing early Weezer, Superdrag, Spacehog, and other post-grunge, modern-rock hit makers.
Pythons finds the West Palm Beach natives carrying on what they started with Astro Coast and last year's Tarot Classics EP. It's no sophomore slump, but Pythons doesn't do much to expand the palate the band has already created for itself. Norton has given the foursome more precision, helping them hit some of the marks they only glanced at on their debut, and nearly any of the record's first five tracks could be a crossover hit for the band. It's easy to imagine "Weird Shapes" and "Squeezing Blood" blaring out of car stereos and soundtracking some high school summer memories. The problem is that Pythons is extraordinarily front-loaded, and most of the magic ends after those five tracks, though closer "Prom Song" hits the mark again.
In many ways it's also a less interesting listen than much of Surfer Blood's debut, with less movement and variation within individual songs. Whereas Astro Coast standouts like "Slow Jabroni" and "Anchorage" took their time to build toward a crescendo—both of them exceeding the six-minute mark—Pythons plays it straight, sticking close to three minutes per song and never flirting with going beyond the power pop template in the same way Astro Coast did.
Nothing about Pythons is going to win over anyone who didn't like the band's debut, nor will it alienate existing fans. What's disappointing is that now, with two dozen recorded tracks to their credit, Surfer Blood haven't shown much desire to move beyond their comfort zone. That's fine for now, but it could get very stale very fast. (www.surferblood.com)
Author rating: 6/10
Average reader rating: 7/10