Saturation of the surfer genre will eventually tire us into an immune state. It may begin with Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast, which fails to break from tide.
The band is made of five good-looking guys from Florida who are tucked safely in the growing genre of nu-beach. They cite Flannery O’Conner as an influence while simultaneously referencing David Lynch (there’s a song called “Twin Peaks”), perhaps thinking that by summoning other artists’ talent, they may become talented themselves. Perhaps they should have researched musical influences, or bothered listening to bands beyond their own peers. Kids these days all want to sound like Black Lips, but don't research what makes Black Lips good. Start at a Nuggets comp, move toward Los Saicos.
Musically, the first two songs are cool but forgettable, with a nod to Brian Eno. Surfer Blood is catchy and sonically mature, which resuscitates the genre a bit without getting too serious. As with any surfer related band these days, it is hard to expect excellence, but this album was astonishing in that it didn’t have one memorable tune. “Floating Vibes” features strong lyrics, but then again, “Anchorage” has a verse about smelling parsley stems. I think another one talks about texting, but I’m not sure.
What's worse, a band can only go so far with nautically themed titles. “Floating Vibes,” “Swim,” and “Anchorage” are the three beachy ones, and the last song gives a real kick in the pants to religion and grammar at once with the oxymoronic “Catholic Pagans.”
Astro Coast will be a hit because despite the band's pedestrian songs, its aesthetic – cover art so similar to Smith Westerns, beach related swill, and the guys acting the part of indistinguishable celebrities is characteristic of this indie generation. Is Surfer Blood better than Smith Westerns? Maybe, but that's comparing Coke to Pepsi. The content is so blah that the focus instantly shifts from the album to the band. I feel like that's all nu-beach is selling. The way Martha Stewart sells a lifestyle, Surfer Blood is selling boys in plaid flannel and leather jackets. Most trendy things (blue camouflage, not eating bread, pogs) have a short shelf life, and out of all these “I live near a shore” bands, it won’t be this one that sticks around.