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Surfer Blood: Astro Coast

B+

Surfer Blood

Album: Astro Coast
Label: Kanine

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Like seemingly every other young indie-rock band of the last two years, Surfer Blood draws some inspiration from Afrobeat and related exotica. The biggest difference is that Surfer Blood’s music is a lot beefier than that of its peers, and more eclectic. The Florida quartet is infatuated with echoing percussion and tactile guitar, and it sounds a lot like one of the early-’80s British jet-set bands—Haircut 100, say—yet it maintains a faintly noirish mood. (Either way, Surfer Blood’s debut album, Astro Coast, is tailor-made for people in trenchcoats, whether they’re ducking paparazzi or going on a stakeout.) Songs like the torch-waving “Swim (To Reach The End)” and the conga-friendly “Take It Easy” stack shout-against-the-tide volume atop nimble rhythmic shifts, treating party music with a sense of urgency that borders on dread. There’s some tension between the disjointed, scruffy underpinnings of Surfer Blood’s songs and the band’s room-filling sound. To some extent, Astro Coast comes off like a muscular, radio-ready version of music that would’ve been found on a limited-edition 45 back in the mid-’90s. But the way Surfer Blood balances escapism and grit is a neat trick, and one that never really loses its sense of wonder.