Surfer Blood’s “Tarot Classics” Preserves Soul, Signals Shift in Sound

Tarot Classics album cover

Last year’s Indie darlings Surfer Blood released their long-anticipated Tarot Classics on Kanine Records today. The EP serves as a trailer for Surfer Blood’s next full-length release, and contains four original tracks alongside seven remixes by the likes of The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner, Speculator, and School of Seven Bells. As a teaser, Tarot Classics does an extraordinary job.

Remixes aside, the EP is surprising. This is not to say it’s bad – it’s just a less-fuzzy, less-silly Astro Coast for the first three songs, and then something totally different.

Surfer Blood photographed by Dan Monick
Thomas Fekete, Tyler Schwarz, Kevin Williams, John Paul Pitts | Surfer Blood photographed by Dan Monick

The record kicks off with appropriately groovy “I’m Not Ready,” and right away the listener is swept up in all the fun they’ve been missing since Astro Coast released in 2010. The chorus, “And I’m not ready to look the other way/take a look under the microscope, man, try and ignore the disarray” is sung with all the pops and hooks of “Twin Peaks,” and totally preserves the chewy, swinging beach-pop they helped usher in to the Indie scene. The song ends with a riff à la “That Thing You Do!” which cements the 50’s vibe for which they seem to be going.

“Miranda” picks up the pace, and is incredibly danceable. It showcases Surfer Blood’s talent particularly in the mid-track guitars, and brings back the carefree playfulness of “Neighbor Riffs.” It is impossibly catchy. By the middle of the song the listener doesn’t mind that the fuzzy outbursts with which “Swim (To Reach The End)” is saturated have been calmed down into a smoother sound. There is even what seems to be a sampling of New Order’s “Ceremony” around 1:26.

The song seamlessly transitions into the gorgeous “Voyager Reprise.” I use the term “gorgeous” as it applies to every aspect of the song – crooning melodies, steady drums, ethereal guitar, and soaring synths. All the while, John Paul Pitts’ voice goes straight to your heart while sounding particularly Morrissey-esque. The song stands out as a favorite on the record, and ushers in a more mature sound from the West Palm Beach boys.

“Drinking Problem,” however, is like getting punched in the face. Except you’re on acid at the time, so you don’t feel it at all. It presents a distinct shift from the previous three songs and the Astro Coast sound in general. They dive head first into the experimental tones, in which they really only dipped their toes in Astro Coast; the song is dripping with loops and synths and noise, bordering on chill, trance-pop akin to later Animal Collective and Of Montreal. With its long drop and sudden stop, “Drinking Problem” leaves the listener wondering what exactly Surfer Blood has planned for their next release.

Download Tarot Classics via Surfer Blood’s website.

About Tara Jayakar

Tara is a senior at BU, studying English and Journalism. She enjoys nothing more then a good meal, a cup of coffee, and the bone-crushing force of a mosh pit.

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