Surf City - We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This (Fire Records, 2013)
For Surf City’s Jekyll Island I wrote: “With ever present jangling guitars, sonic reverb overlays, a solid rhythm section, and drumming that lays down a cool groove, it takes few effects to support the agreeably front and center vocals that grab your attention and hold you transfixed. Surf City have nailed down their use of pop melodies, understand the essence of hooks, the impact of texture, where they lay out a panavision Valium sunset that surrounds and completely engulfs with hazy washes that are so warped that you will be laid out horizontally, floating in mid air.”
Had I moved through the catalog of Surf City in an orderly fashion, from first to last, I might have missed Jekyll Island completely, as both Kudos and here on We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This, I found those albums not to be to my taste at all … being more edgy and more garage rock oriented to the point where my sonically laid back mind found the music to be rather uncomfortable. Though in the band’s defense, their sound is structured and creates an atmosphere that is plugged in and spaced out, designed for those moments when one is actually surfing and not laying back on the beach as the bonfire smolders and the long rays of the setting sun are being drawn to a close over the horizon.
If anything, Surf City lean toward a verbose inspired White Light White Heat Velvet Underground proclamation of influences that come off as boundless and jangled, complete with guitar freak-outs, yet leaves me with the feeling that something more productive and satisfying could have been emitted from between these grooves … and happily for this listener they take a step I would never have seen coming, and presented Jekyll Island, which will stand as a singular event in the career of this band. Though on reflection, I should have anticipated a new attitude, as it’s not until the very last number, “What Gets Me By,” that we come face to face with the tone Surf City will take on their next release Jekyll Island, a song that’s so good, so positively sonically wasted and illusively intoxicated, that it sparked me to add the track to the end of my Jekyll Island CDR, where I was able to capture and add one more song to an already splendid album.
- Jenell Kesler
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