Key Tracks: “I Was Wrong,” “Slow Six”
Surfer Blood’s John Paul Pitts sure is sorry. The band’s second full-length, “Pythons” acts as one long apology. The line ‘apology, meet apology’ shows up on a track that is not “I Was Wrong.” The whole album is pretty much apologies or Pitts singing about putting himself in uncomfortable situations because he feels like he deserves it. Why? Domestic abuse charges from August 2012. So Pitts has every right to be apologizing in his music.
The music of the album presents a challenge, because Surfer Blood’s sound has not really ever been one to match up with the uncomfortable lyrics presented on “Pythons.” Many tracks just follow basic, poppy melodies with sometime group choruses. Occasionally, Pitts will fall into screams in the chorus, possibly trying to emphasize the internal pain he’s feeling. But they usually do not fit within the context of the song. The only song that really grabs is “Slow Six,” the penultimate track, one heavier than anything presented before it. The other songs all feel too easy, and although they are catchy, they do not work alongside the apologetic lyrics.
Taken for what it is without any knowledge of the album’s inspiration, “Pythons” is an enjoyable and catchy record. It isn’t great but it’s worth a listen for fans of general pop-punk and surf rock. The B- is a response to this listening. The album takes on a new reflection when the listener knows why Pitts is so apologetic. Pitts might really be feeling the internal pain he sings and screams about, but with poppy and largely uninspired music, there’s no way to believe it. Which, ultimately, gives us no reason to care. I try my hardest to separate albums from the personalities that make them, but when an album like “Pythons” is so reflective of it’s maker, and an unconvincing one, I can’t help but to discredit it.
If you like this, try: “Crazy For You,” Best Coast’s debut. Not a fan of the band, personally, but they’re a similar sound.
-By Andrew McNally