Surfer Blood - Tarot Classics (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Surfer Blood

Tarot Classics (2011)


Young Floridians Surfer Blood are taking the money and jumping to Warner Bros. for their next album, but before they do they are giving Kanine one more EP. Their debut full-length Astro Coast ended up at #3 on my list of 2010 albums, so needless to say I was excited for more tunes even it was just four of ‘em.

"I'm Not Ready" begins with a ping-ponging guitar line, with the vocals following suit. I've always had the feeling that they write their melodies on guitar first, then transfer them to the vocals. This makes for some unique lines with big leaps but it really works well for vocalist John Paul Pitts, who's got a good low range as well as a decent falsetto. Perhaps due to their age, Surfer Blood love the diss track, and this is another great one: "So you found someone new to lap your shit up for a while? Honestly / Sooner or later they will find out what you're made of, certainly / Then its over."

"Miranda" knocks the tempo up with more catchy guitar lines and a very singable chorus. The song has horns in it but unfortunately they are mixed so low you might never notice. "Miranda" flows seamlessly into "Voyager Reprise" with a similar toe-tapping beat. Surfer Blood shows restraint by going guitar-less for a lot of the time, with the verses sustained by an interesting bass rhythm and sustained electric piano chords.

"Drinking Problem" is the odd duck of the group, perhaps an attempt to keep with the Afro-pop-whatever that peppered Astro Coast songs like "Take It Easy." With live and programmed drums and percussion, samples and keyboard pads, the song mixes things up, but melodically is the least memorable of the set.

The EP concludes with a couple remixes (even more if you get the deluxe vinyl). I can take or leave remixes most of the time, and here "Voyager" gets a nice funky treatment, while the "Drinking Problem" remix doesn't do much for me, repeating vocal lines to the point of annoyance.

While there is nothing as bombastically power-pop as "Swim" on Tarot Classics, it's a solid and memorable batch, with the first three tracks stacking up with the best of Astro Coast. Apparently they are recording their sophomore full-length with Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, much other awesomeness) as we speak, so I'm anxious to hear what he brings to their sound.