Snowdonia is the fourth album by Floridian indie band Surfer Blood. It’s the band’s first album since the tragic death of guitarist Thomas Feteke. Bassist Kevin Williams also left the band, prompting high school friends Michael McCleary and Lindsay Mills to be recruited on guitar and bass respectively. As with previous Surfer Blood albums the hooks are in place, however, Snowdonia boasts bigger and more complex songs. Frontman John Paul Pitts returned to a formula that he used on the band’s debut album Astro Coast by writing and mixing the album alone. Overcoming the tragedy has strengthened the band. This could be their best yet….
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After a dreadful couple of years when their guitarist passed away and their bassist left Surfer Blood have regrouped and sound incredibly perky. In fact opener ‘Matter of Time’ is kind of the musical equivalent of that laughing picture of the Beach Boys taken just after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson which I actually can't find on google.
Surfer Blood here here play simple indie rock that even the stupid could understand. The chords are all blindingly obvious major chords, guitar solos are ‘Boredom’ simple and vocals float over the top with every note in exactly the place you’d expect. The brilliance of someone like, say Morrissey is that you are never quite sure what form the vocal melody will take., Here Surfer Blood take the opposite approach and sing the kinds of melodies a child could sing along to. It’s all enjoyable and cheerful but i’m not finding myself challenged in any way. But I guess that isn’t the point. It’s instantly enjoyable and charming indie pop that seeps into your conscious by simply being nice. The pretty guitar interplay of the title track evokes Felt somewhat and this feels like a level above the opening quartet of tracks and this leads to a slightly more interesting second half of the LP particularly with the Pixies-ish chords and eerie rise and fall melodies of ‘Taking Care of Eddy’ and winsome guitar tangled closer ‘Carrier Pigeon’
I wish Surfer Blood no harm at all - God knows they’ve had enough bad luck already. This is nice non-threatening indie which iit’s second half raises it’s game, taking a few more risks and is much better for it.
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