Surfer Blood is the kind of band you dance to in your bedroom. High socks on, Molly Ringwald in “The Breakfast Club”-type moves and some giant speakers blasting (or headphones, if you have a roommate), there’s no denying their infectious hooks.
But if Surfer Blood’s debut album, Astro Coast, evoked images of skipping along the beach, their new EP, Tarot Classics, is one of calculated (though no less exuberant) galloping. Tarot Classics is a natural progression for a band that makes breezy, hook-heavy tunes. At four songs, it’s a more compact, refined, concentrated effort than Astro Coast, with songs that attempt to assert their own individuality rather than simply floating along.
Tarot Classics opens with “I’m Not Ready,” which highlights John Paul Pitts’s signature carefree vocals but distinguishes itself from the band’s previous work with its focus and thoughtful execution. “Miranda,” the most blatantly catchy song on the EP, is the offspring of the Pixies’s “Allison,” with Pavement-worthy hooks that would have made many ‘90s bands proud. “Voyager Reprise” presents a slower balladry that has a certain sweetness in its clarity and darkness in its tone. Although “Drinking Problem” lacks the punch of the first three songs, it offers a new direction for the band with its repetition and layering of Pitts’s vocal harmonies and suggests that Surfer Blood will continue to play with and refine their sound for what will likely be a highly anticipated sophomore album.
Yes, it’s easy to write off the band as simply re-packaging the sounds of past indie rock greats — of creating simple songs that aren’t strange or ground-breaking. But while Surfer Blood may not be changing the current musical landscape, that’s not their intent. It seems like they’d be happy just dancing around in their bedrooms with us — dancing, it’s important to note, to some positively excellent tunes.