In 2008, New Zealand band Surf City released their first EP and two years later, their first album. At this point, the band has had the chance to grab the attention of potential fans everywhere. Needless to say, they’ve left a lot of people looking for more. Luckily here we are in 2013 with their latest album, We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This.
Surf City’s We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This is interestingly subtle. Generally speaking if the words “surf rock” or “psychedelic” are mentioned, an album tends to be full of energy and acts like a musical stick of dynamite. Surf City tastefully subdues their explosive power in order to deliver a more matured and refined tune. The difference between Surf City and any other band putting out an album this summer, is that Surf City has taken a moment to step back and develop their sound into something that can be enjoyed by a broader spectrum.
Unfortunately, this leaves much to be desired. The album starts with a song called, “It’s A Common Life.” It’s fun, it’s intense, the song actually makes you want to get out of your seat and dance. The slurred vocals and twanging guitars lead you on, you think you’re going to get a surf rock jam session that will keep you partying for days –but then the band loses their momentum and immediately begins tossing slower paced, more repetitive feeling songs.
This isn’t even, nor should be, an issue but fans of Surf City may be a little disappointed. For instance, in their 2010 album, Kudos, the band went full force. High energy, fuzz filled jam sessions defined the album and left listeners craving for more Surf City. This time around, the band seems lethargic in comparison. Even so, the album remains enjoyable based on it’s own merit.
Nitpicking aside, Surf City really did a great job. Songs like, “Claims of A Galactic Medium,” really do their best to sell the band. It’s a simple melody and dreamy vocals that draw you in, and a poppy beat with a series of interjecting, surf-rock reminiscent guitar melodies that make you stay for more. The band manages to do it again with their seventh track, “I Want You.” It’s admittedly one of the slowest, most relaxed songs on the album –but the sentimental sound show a side of Surf City you may not see otherwise. Lyrically it’s simple yet meaningful. “Hey Girl I want you so bad,” may not be the most creative or endearing chorus in history, but when you’re used to hearing constant guitar jams, it’s a nice break.
Overall, We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This is fairly good, and even if it sacrifices some of the band’s original energy, it makes up for it by expanding on the original style and giving everyone a deeper, more robust experience. Give the album a shot, you might be surprised by what you find.