Surfaces resurface with soul, pop fusion on ‘Pacifico’

photo of Surfaces album cover
Surfaces Music/Courtesy

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Grade: 3.5/5.0

Since its 2017 debut with Surf, Surfaces has been steadily curating a stage unique to themselves. The duo, Forrest Frank and Colin Padalecki, has created a special fusion of soul and pop ingredients, propelling them into the indie mainstream. After garnering explosive TikTok popularity with their 2019 track “Sunday Best” last year, Surfaces aims to meet a new standard of expectations with their fourth studio album, Pacifico, released June 25.

Simply put, Pacifico fits right into the themes closest to Surfaces. Visually and musically, the pair boasts elements of sun and summer on this new album, cornerstone to their brand. When you first listen to Pacifico, you’ll feel like driving with the windows down or spending the day at the beach with the songs on loop. It’s an effortless listen, free of any harsh or heavy themes, sending you into a sonic utopia.

The early single release of “Wave of You” off the album sets the tone for Pacifico. The track is rightfully the most memorable, making it a brilliant selection as a stand-alone song. It’s charged with nuance and novelty, a strong indication of the musical maturation and evolution of Surfaces. The recurring glass-shattering synths complement the chorus’ falsetto tones and echoes swiftly, making listeners eager for more.

Notably, the new album features an array of different artists accompanying the duo, a stark contrast to the composition of their older works. The collaborative efforts of Pacifico, namely Quinn XCII’s “On Time” and Salem Ilese’s “Come With Me,” soar in success. The juxtaposition of each artist and their distinct sounds make the tracks addicting. The rich conviction of Quinn XCII and the tender voice of Ilese is a testament to the Surfaces’ ability to blend well with artists of all styles.

But while these two tracks rise to the occasion, “Feels the Same” featuring the indie pop artist Public Library Commute, just misses the mark. While the individual parts of the two artists are dreamy and hypnotic, the song feels cut in half. When the first chorus ends, Public Library Commute enters the song with a clashing tone, inconsistent with Surfaces’ opening. The song is poorly stitched together, as though it was created with two separate visions in mind — an unfortunate shortfall of what otherwise would’ve been a special addition to the album.

Despite the genre-bending tracks on Pacifico, Surfaces still conveys their mastery in a niche they’ve stayed true to. Tracks such as “Let Me Know,” “Let It Ride” and “Time Zones” contain the original touch of Surfaces that fans have grown so loyal to. The songs all excel in listenability, but they do tend to recycle similar ideas. There is a noticeable similarity in melodies and instrumentation found between these songs and in the previous album Horizons, making the three tracks sound like reiterations of each other.

The one solo track that diverts evidently on Pacifico is “Next Thing (Loverboy).” The track leans toward a pop ballad approach that is more mellow and refreshing. And even with the shift in tempo and production, the song still fits right in with the album’s motifs. It adds diversity Surfaces could develop for the future, a likely foreshadow for the duo to attempt next. But for now, fans have this small glimpse of a stripped-down version of Surfaces to latch onto.

To conclude the 16 song collection, the title track culminates the efforts of Frank and Padalecki. The song is like a healthy ode to a new musical direction while still remaining true to themselves. The lyrics suggest that this is just the beginning for Surfaces, that they’ve worked hard to complete this album, as they continue to chant “I just wanna be someone” and “I left it all in Pacifico” through the chorus and refrain.

It’s no question that Pacifico is a milestone indicative of Surfaces’ most mature work to date. As the duo continues to navigate the winding roads of their musical future, Pacifico holds together all its progress, possibilities and undeniable potential. 

Contact Ashley Tsai at [email protected].