Surfer Blood have finally released their sophomore full-length effort . The new album, “Pythons”, is the band’s first album released on a major label, and their first new material since 2011’s “Tarot Classics”.
The new album is exactly the hook-laden, excellently crafted, collection of pop-rock anyone familiar with the band would expect. Guitar riffs still swell and surge in interesting eddies, and the lyrical motifs of choice still include the less pleasant aspects of love, ennui and celestial bodies, but there are some changes to the band’s sound. The reverb that was a prominent feature on Surfer Blood’s debut, “Astro Coast” is mostly gone. This allows for occasional hard-charging, polished guitar charges. It also adds emphasis to lead singer, John Paul Pitts, which only lets this catchy collection further entrench itself into the listener’s head. Although, uses of reverberation may be few and far between on this album there is still an obscuring factor looming over “Pythons”.
Pitts was arrested for domestic battery March 31, 2012. Ultimately, charges were dropped, but it would seem that Pitts was definitely at fault for finding himself in such an awful position. Pitts admits it was an unhealthy relationship, but maintains that he did not hit anyone or act out of malice. It is hard to separate “Pythons” from what seems to be an all-around nasty situation. Especially, when the song “Squeezing Blood” contains the lyrics, “Damning allegations have come to light,” and “All the world fell silent when I read the verdict.” Pitts has said that these lyrics are coincidental, but no matter what it certainly doesn’t stop the specter of his arrest from hanging over the album.
While it is surrounded with unfortunate controversy “Pythons” is a smart, enjoyable pop-rock album with plenty of hooks and an atmosphere perfect for its June release. Whether the album is palatable considering the personal conduct of Pitts is up to the individual listener.
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