BY MISCHA PEARLMAN
There’s a moment towards the end of “I Was Wrong”, the fourth track of Surfer Blood’s second album, when singer John Paul Pitts viciously barks out the song’s title, transforming it from a gently jangling ditty into a visceral, primal outburst of rage and regret. It’s doesn’t last for long—Pitts shouts that phrase six times over 15 or so seconds—but the effect resonates for much longer.
This is, after all, the frontman who, in March 2012, was arrested for domestic battery after an incident with his girlfriend. All charges were dropped, but, as is the modern, internet-led way, that incident looms heavily over the release of this sophomore record—which also happens to be their first on a major. Whether that’s a reaction/admission/nod to/nothing to do with that incident is hard to say—there do seem to be numerous apologies and regrets scattered throughout this record’s 10 tracks—but regardless, it’s the one moment that truly stands out because it’s so different.
Which is to say that, the majority of the rest of the record, and, indeed, the rest of that song, is comprised of the retro, throwback sound – lilting, pleasant surf-rock that updates the original ’50s waves for the modern era. The likes of “Demon Dance” and “Needles And Pins” might present a slightly more polished version of the band’s nostalgic summer vibes, but that doesn’t mean the band have lost their edge—“Slow Six “ and “Prom Song” still shimmer with heavy authenticity and—perhaps—an even more intense passion. It makes for a suitably successful second record that, regardless of the salacious story surrounding the band that made it, pretty much lives up to the inspiring promise of their first.
DOWNLOAD: “I Was Wrong”, “Slow Six”