By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
[Joyful Noise; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Six Flags in F or G”, “Snowdonia”
Surfer Blood has become synonymous with bad news. An abuse scandal in 2012 turned many fans away from them, and more recently the band’s had to deal with the departure of bassist Kevin Williams and the death of their friend and guitarist, Thomas Fekete. A bad rep and grief can take their toll on anyone, but Surfer Blood makes an effort to pull it together in Snowdonia. Unfortunately, they fail to leave much of an impression despite having some tunes for easy listening.
The record opens with a mood that is relaxed and upbeat in “Matter of Time”. The chorus is delivered like a mumble whilst being repetitive and catchy. That can be said for the majority of the instrumentation throughout the album as well. “Dino Jay” features lower register guitars that break into something uplifting. Frontman John Paul Pitts shows off his falsetto here, and again to better effect in “Snowdonia”. There’s a moment for grieving Fekete at the album’s midway point. “Nourished by my disappointment, parasitic grief, and there’s no turn back, a widow dressed in black,” Pitts sings painfully on “Six Flags in F or G”. The chorus offers glimpses of hope with the guitar wailing along. From there the record’s second half doesn’t make much of a statement. The title track is a coasting, seven-minute jam that does a lot be relaxing but doesn’t reach any major points. The rest of the album follows suit.
Losing someone close is incredibly difficult. The tribute to their bandmate is honest, emotional and the strongest moment on Snowdonia. It’s a shame the rest of tracks weren’t as thoughtful or tended to. Despite its averageness, there’s still likeability in Snowdonia. It’s relaxed, collected and listeners should have an easy time chilling out to Surfer Blood’s latest.