With Easter decorations only just going up (its mid January), Surfer Blood are already pining prematurely for Summertime. Astro Coast is an album filled with both that onset of Spring optimism as the days get longer, and late Summer nostalgia; seized and drenched in Lo-fi reverb and warm crunchy overdrive. Combined with the punkish vocals tones and the accented East Coast-inspired lyrics, which seems to flow naturally from all bands in such locations, Surfer Blood make for the most unlikely bunch of non-surfers the US surf punk scene has to offer. The album doesn’t mess around in the slightest: Floating Vibes is the epitomy of their sound and also one of the album highlights – without doubt winning me over from the outset with its perfect placement at the start of the album.
The onset of fuzzy overdrive is almost instantaneous for Astro Coast, and takes precedence throughout, reaching its peak on the albums second installment, and in my opinion a clear-cut 7″ single ‘Swim (To Reach The End)’. As with the opening track ‘Floating Vibes’, grainy chords clutter the first few bars of the song before descending into echoey garage rock, with every essence of ‘tiny venue euphoria’ which so few bands manage to whip up. Like Christopher Owen’s Girls before them (and the Beach Boys long before them), Surfer Blood manage to perfectly reciprocate basic 60s chord sequences into easy-going reverb soaked pop songs with the amount of skill and ease that would typically evidence years in the business. As maybe a less accomplished band would, Surfer Blood avoid the temptation to scatter their rallying cries across the entire album – and instead supply us with some equally well-crafted downbeat songs until the close of the ten-track LP. They come in the form of the pair of 6-minute wonders that are ‘Slow Jabroni’ and the slightly more turbulent ‘Anchorage’ as well as the unsurprisingly harmonic filled song ‘harmonix’ – which after a short introduction of whammy bar harmonics unleashes darkened interludes of shattering overdrive.
With such a solid release, Surfer Blood look all set to head the dance/surf movement in to 2010, which has seen the roots of the imminent rise of Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast, Girls, as well as the soon to be chartered success of NME-favourited bands like The Drums. With slight variation, each act relates back to the same starting point – a musical longing for the summer, which, serving as inspiration for the lo-fi tunes and nostalgic lyrics makes for an extremely exciting musical concoction, which we are fated to be seeing a lot more of in the coming months. From me, Astro Coast picks up a high 8/10, consistently recorded and setting a fantastic mood amongst the open minded of us. The more you familiarise yourself with this album (i’ve had it a week now), the more personal it becomes, and although such disconnected themes as surfing, the beach, and cocaine use might subject discussion – this album is easily accessible to all who allow it the time it needs.