Surfer Blood
Pythons


4.5
superb

Review

by PorkchopExpress USER (37 Reviews)
June 13th, 2013 | 30 replies | 7,059 views


Release Date: 06/11/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: By honing in on their talents, Surfer Blood return with a more concise and focused follow-up to their debut album. And frankly, a better one.

7 of 7 thought this review was well written

Surfer Blood came from out of nowhere to become music blog and critical darlings with the 2010 release of their debut album, Astro Coast. Their music garnered them comparisons to The Beach Boys, Weezer, and Pavement (correctly), as well as being labeled (incorrectly) a part of the 'chillwave' movement that painted so many artists into a corner around that time. It was a pleasant album, but for me it fell apart when they would break into guitar freak-outs that didn't really seem to go anywhere. This is obviously a matter of personal opinion, because that aspect was praised by most fans of Astro Coast. However, that would explain why their follow-up resonated with me in a much bigger way. With Pythons, they've managed to trim off some of the fat, making a breezy pop album with 10 songs clocking in at just over 30 minutes.

I'll admit that when the first few songs from the album were released I remained cautiously optimistic, despite really liking them. This is because--even though I was lukewarm to it--there were definitely some gems on Astro Coast. Tracks like "Swim", "Floating Vibes", and "Fast Jabroni" have remained on my iPod since the album was released. So while the new tracks were enough to pique my interest, I was still trying to temper my expectations. But even if I hadn't, it's safe to say this album would have met (and possibly exceeded) them. The main things they carried over from Astro Coast to Pythons, and what makes the album work so well, are the hooks. Album opener and second single "Demon Dance" begins with a a guitar line reminiscent of "Everything Flows" by Teenage Fanclub, before settling into the summery sound the band built their reputation on. However, the song pulls a trick absent from the debut, and that's mixing in some aggression toward the end. "Apologies, need apologies/We can demon dance all night" John Paul Pitts wails, before eventually coming back to the bridge and chorus one final time. It was only then that I realized that it was the first time in the song the band had utilized the Beach Boy-esque harmonizing that made them stand out from the 'chillwave' crowd in the first place. It's not a new trick--going from shouting to singing--but in the arsenal of this particular band it is. It's slightly jarring, but it works very well.

The album was produced by Gil Norton, who has worked with The Pixies, Jimmy Eat World, and Echo & The Bunnymen (among others), and his production gives a sheen to the songs without ever getting in the way. The songs sound upbeat, but never too upbeat, which is good because underneath it all is some very dark lyricism. Take "Weird Shapes" as an example. It owes the most to early Weezer than any track on the album. And like early Weezer, it uses sugar to make the bitter easier to take. On a superficial level, it's a hummable, sing-along bit of surf-rock (that also incorporates the shouting technique from "Demon Dance). But when you give it your full attention you reveal lyrics like "It's getting late/Then the sun's going to come/Let it shine on someone else.". Or on "Gravity", when Pitts shows self-doubt with lyrics like "Guarded by a plagiarizing heart/I still can't believe you'd keep yours with me" or a simple line like "I know I can make a mess of things".

Interspersed throughout are several ballads, like "I Was Wrong", "Needles and Pins", and "Slow Six" (the only song to break the 4 minute mark). The final track, "Prom Song", manages to weave the two sounds (slow ballad and poppy surf-rock) into one, making a great closer to the album by working as a combination of the songs it follows. However, as good as the ballads are--and as necessary as they are to keep the album from becoming monotonous--it'll be tracks like "Say Yes To Me" and the aforementioned "Demon Dance" that will keep me returning to this album all summer. It's a great seasonal album despite some of the heaviness of the lyrics. By veering away from some of the excess of their debut, they've managed to get to the heart of what they've been all along: a really solid band with a knack for writing a good pop song. And Pythons is all the better for it.



Recent reviews by this author
Da Mafia 6ix 6ix CommandmentsOnyx All We Got Iz Us
Mikal Cronin MCIIAlexander Spit A Breathtaking Trip to That Otherside
TiRon & Ayomari A Sucker For PumpsRoc Marciano Reloaded
user ratings (64)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Nathan Taft (4.5)
”Pythons” is a more mature and emotionally charged album that proves Surfer Blood is capable of ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
PorkchopExpress
June 13th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

My goal with this was to be the only person to write a review for this album to not mention the Pitts' issues while recording it. It was hard, since it pretty much forms the basis for the lyrics to the album, but here it is.

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2013



10249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

niceeeeee

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Odal
June 13th 2013



347 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm really digging this album, it's close to becoming a 4 for me. There are definitely a handful of songs that will be going on my summer playlist. Review is solid, but could use some cleaning up like using slashes instead of periods when quoting lyrics with more than one line and maybe taking out some of your first-person interjections.

Kiran
Emeritus
June 13th 2013



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

My goal with this was to be the only person to write a review for this album to not mention the Pitts' issues while recording it.

spin's review implies they sold out in the first sentence and then spends the other three paragraphs essentially saying 'let me tell you about this pitts guy, this guy is a real psycho'

klap
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2013



10249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

god dammit spin

PorkchopExpress
June 13th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This actually blew my mind, and this was just in the news that the album was streaming, not the review itself.

[a]http://www.stereogum.com/1370861/stream-surfer-blood-pythons/album-stream/[/a]

Kiran
Emeritus
June 13th 2013



6000 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's a legitimate point that background like that can colour the music with something sinister but the way these journalists are going about it is so vindictive

PorkchopExpress
June 13th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Also, I'll have to check that Spin review out now.

edit: "Indeed, a young Eminem would've recognized a kindred soul here"

Holy shit

@Odal, thanks for the advice, I hadn't even noticed I put periods in the lyrics.
The personal, first-person stuff was partially due to the constraints of staying away from the lead-
singer narrative and also kind of because that's how a lot of my reviews are.

PorkchopExpress
June 13th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@Kiran

Exactly. I understand why it's important, but man. The whole last paragraph of the Pitchfork
review from today was basically only about that situation, and that was from a fairly positive
review.

Don't get me wrong, if he actually did do it then I have no sympathy for the guy. But this isn't a
dead-to-rights situation by any means.


klap
Staff Reviewer
June 13th 2013



10249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

comparing him to Chris Brown is a bit of a stretch at this moment in time

PorkchopExpress
June 13th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You say that now but just wait until he gets into fights with Drake and Frank Ocean in the coming months.

Pentagon
June 13th 2013



1998 Comments


Lol the spin review reads like they are castigating him for his thematic focus, nobheads

ZackSh33
June 13th 2013



244 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Pos. This album is better than their first. Cleaner, catchy, more focused, stronger overall than Astrocoast. Good review. "Prom Song" is amazing.

alachlahol
June 13th 2013



7471 Comments


from the four songs i streamed theres no frikkin way this is takin out astrocoast

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 14th 2013



7018 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Beautiful album. Disappointing that reviewers on some publication sites seem to be focusing more on the domestic charges than the actual music (or giving it a lower rating because of it - ridiculous).

Digging: Braid - No Coast

alachlahol
June 14th 2013



7471 Comments


no different than every arghoslent review being prefaced by the bands views on race only this time the musics boring and theres nothing else to talk about so might as well talk about this guy beatin up girls

alachlahol
June 14th 2013



7471 Comments


this sounds like some crappy barenaked ladies 90s rock

alachlahol
June 14th 2013



7471 Comments


reminds of when 311 started to suck

Pippokles
June 14th 2013



1 Comments


abc

PorkchopExpress
June 14th 2013



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Aw, alachlahol you were doing fine until you insinuated there was a time that 311 wasn't a terrible, terrible band ;)



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy