Granted the underground has been in a bit of a slump of late. Outside of the Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, the latter half of ’09 and the first few weeks of ’10 have failed to produce much in the way of memorable albums. Both Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Spoon’s Transference were mixed bags of OK. Still, does this fact alone explain the praise given to Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast? Maybe, kinda, sorta it could.
Astro Coast is a great guitar album where “Six-strings serve as a multiplier for hooks, making it every bit as easy and fun to air guitar with as it is to sing along to,” as Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen contends. Astro Coast is an early contender for album of the year, Blurt’s Jonah Flicker, enthusiastically states, then goes on to add Surfer Blood could be the next Shins or the next Band of Horses. Hell, this band could do more than change your life. This band could be your life!
With all of this hype in tow, one might expect Astro Coast to be a scene-changing, insta-classic. It’s pleasurable, and poppy, and has one killer single, but insta-classic, it’s not. First single, “Swim,” is a memorable, mid-fi take on the Cars with a big, arching melody. While album lead, “Floating Vibes,” recalls Weezer in their simpler, non-fad chasing days. Deeper in the album, songs like “Harmonix” and “Twin Peaks” are warm, re-verb heavy takes on the classic pop of Squeeze, and “Catholic Pagans” does a decent enough take on the wistful pop of The Shins. Plus, they do dabble in Afro-rhythms like Vampire Weekend on “Take it Easy,” and that’s always good for a couple points in the critic’s eyes. Add it all together and you have a very solid pop album, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing to get all crazy, proclaim-y about. 6 out of 10 on The Rockometer.
VIDEO: Surfer Blood – Swim