Monday, 1 June 2015

Surfer Blood - "1000 Palms"

Most of 1000 Palms seems like a love letter (to one, lucky girl) but one that is written right at the start when all is uncertain and the pursuer is full of jittery energy. And when the album persona is not wooing his desire, he’s looking wistfully back at a rich collection of memories.

Or maybe it’s hard to move away from recognising clear autobiographic influences in Surfer Blood’s music. “If we could never let it go/how could I ever say hello?” primary songwriter John Paul Pitts sings in the first track. He is vulnerable in his storytelling and while this album is very lyrically driven, it has a charming, nostalgic touch to its sound with distorted guitar and male-female harmonies. The album does lose part of its vibrancy after the first half, moving from pop structured choruses to more chilled, but still endearing, tracks.

“Island” ironically starts similar to “Island in the Sun” but with dreamy backing vocals and two electric guitars chasing each other in the background. Then “I Can’t Explain” changes the mood to something more desperate, with powerful electric guitar and smashing cymbals under a heartfelt but strong lyric; “I can’t explain” is repeated over and over and we can feel it.

I felt a bit of an OC surf rock vibe from 1000 Palms, with the fuzzy vocals and dreamy lyrics. And for an album that was largely self-recorded (in the living room of drummer Tyler Schwarz’ house) it is still crisp. Fans of Best Coast and even Cloud Nothings will appreciate the subdued pop structures weaving into reflective narratives. Some of the tracks feel like they will easily become sing-a-longs in their live shows.1000 Palms is one of those albums that sounds good in one big listen, the songs meld into each other and they tell a story.

Pitts has been criticised in the past (namely for his arrest – we didn’t want to bring it up but just google his name and it’s there.) But maybe Surfer Blood have reached a redemption point after that and their break from Warner Bros. records: “But nothing’s alright if you’re not my girl/you bring me peace in this chaotic world.” It’s not world-shaking but it’s perfect for a lazy listen. 1000 Palms might just be the cathartic look into past pain that we need right now.

Published on AdamNOTEve.

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