*** (out of four)
With Surfer Blood's follow-up to 2010's "Astro Coast," it’s as clear as singer JP Pitts' sweet vocals that the sophomore slump is not for them. The Florida quartet's new album “Pythons” blends the infectious fun of surf music with unexpectedly complex lyrics, giving listeners a lot to digest. Most of the time, it’s delicious.
The album starts slow with opener “Demon Dance." The song doesn’t grab your attention until Pitts screams, “Apologies meet apologies/ we could demon dance all night," and that’s where the album really begins. “Weird Shapes,” the record's first single, is a classic alternative rock hit, packing powerful layers in its harmonies. “I Was Wrong” sounds like something you’d hear from Weezer’s 1994 self-titled debut, while “Say Yes to Me” is a nod to The Shins.
In fact, Surfer Blood's musical influences are obvious throughout. (Most apparent is their fondness for the Beach Boys.) On standout “Needles and Pins,” Pitts sings, “Immaculate savior/this is my bread to you,” whose confessional message is heightened with vocal echoes, an organ and a variety of string instruments to accompany the track’s vulnerability.
"Pythons" lacks a single that transcends or even matches "Swim" from "Astro Coast," and on first listen "Pythons" may seem underwhelming. Still, rather than just delivering hooks without substance, Surfer Blood satisfies and leaves us hungry for what’s next.
In concert: September 13-15 at Riot Fest (day-by-day schedule not yet released)
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