Surf City: Jekyll Island (Fire/Southbound)

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Surf City: Hollow Veins
Surf City: Jekyll Island (Fire/Southbound)

On previous albums the Auckland-bred but now much traveled Surf City delivered increasingly impressive opening salvoes and you heard an increasing confidence . . . and a band finding its own voice.

They have always worn their influences overtly -- Flying Nun, Jesus and Mary Chain, Ramones -- so they certainly weren't about reinventing anything. In part that was a measure of their success and charm, they just took elements and reconstituted them into their own style of buzzing pop.

This time out those influences remain -- add shoegaze in general too -- but they have now nailed down a much more hypnotic drone-groove for many of the songs and the production is more widescreen, the nunaces more subtle so result in repeat-plays  . . . but . . .

Where they once wore those influences as just part of the picture there are places here where, for example, the Ramones lawyers might call and say Joey and Johnny are calling from beyond (notably Hollow Veins) or J&MChain might ask for their chord progression book back.

When they step past that -- the opener Beat the Summer Heat, the trippy What They Need which admittedly does recall early David Kilgour a little, the bright pop of Leave Your Worries and Thumbs Up -- then you feel they are on more solid and original ground.

Across these 11 songs there are many pleasures to be had (and not just spot-the-band) but while they have pushed a little bit at their previous paramters there is still much more to be explored by them.

A sound and solid album, but with so much of this reworking the familiar the necessary surprises are too few to be as excited as we once were by Surf City.

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