ALBUM REVIEW: Surf City | We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This

Rating7square-600-1Three years after their debut album, Surf City return with another batch of songs that maintain the dense, opulent melodies and archetypal kiwi indie sonics but now built around a more confident compositional core.

From the outset the band fall straight back into the deep end of their hooky, slacker vocal delivery with oohs and doo doos aplenty. Their songs are deceptively simple, based around a central catchy melody while the rest of the band chugs along slack-jawed and with a casual swing. The ever present aura of krautrock has always hovered around Surf City and they bring it to the fore on Song From a Short Lived TV Series. The rhythm section pulses along before the repetitive tension is released and chiming guitar riffs bring a cascade of light and colour to the song. It’s the strongest track on the album and though others like NYC follow its template they’re imitations of the paler shade.

No Place To Go dials back the wash of gentle psych and takes the more direct route with its sugary pop feel reminiscent of 90s countrymen Garageland. Similarly stripped back (sonically and thematically) is I Want You, a 60s boy/girl pop song with no pretensions to be anything else. It shows how effectively Surf City can do honest, straightforward pop as well as immersive psychedelic excursions like the Television-esque album closer What Gets Me By.

Surf City have widened their oeuvre on We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This and show their willingness to explore new areas of their songwriting capabilities. For the most part they nail it save for some distracting, unresolved noodling at a couple of points. Firmly part of the current wave of NZ acts like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Opossom and Popstrangers, Surf City continue to breathe new life into combinations of older musical forms.

Chris Familton

this review was first published on FasterLouder


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