The guys of Surfer Blood get this a lot, but damn if it isn’t hard to keep Weezer out of your mind when listening to them. For this reviewer, though, this is the highest compliment. The first two Weezer albums were incredible, expertly mastering garage rock and the roots of emo before the tailspin that led us to disasters like Make Believe. But Surfer Blood’s sophomore album, Pythons, isn’t derivative or a rip-off, instead standing as the logical progression for those who enjoy an untroubled alternative sound as a medium for overtly troubled personal confessions.
Musically, Pythons projects a carefree attitude with simple, foundational vocal melodies and the numbing quality of John Paul Pitts’ tone. However, the album is truly propelled by the guitar work, which can be as catchy as it is intricate. The melody of “I Was Wrong” stands out in this regard, as does the solo in “Gravity.” The album is also littered with secondary-functioning chords, giving a constant sense of direction to many of the songs.
As insouciant as the music might seem, the album is marked by lyrics that are often pleading and burdened. It is not strictly sulking that takes place though as the singer often seems to be reveling in his despair, perhaps knowing no alternative. “I Was Wrong” doesn’t exactly demonstrate a strong resolve, and the lines “Touch me with fire / Fill me with needles and pins” (from “Needles and Pins”) are blithely supplicatory. In “Prom Song,” Pitts may sing “I just can’t be bothered / I don’t want to know,” but any properly self-destructive person knows that you will be bothered, you must know.”
Anybody who likes a stark juxtaposition of feelings will enjoy Pythons. Some of the guitar riffs are bound to lodge into a listener’s brain right next to the thoughts of longing and frustration that the album’s lyrics provoke. And yes, you just might think of Weezer, whether Surfer Blood likes it or not.