Pythons - KANINE/WARNER
FILTER Grade: 79%
By Kyle Lemmon on June 10, 2013
Surfer Blood frontman John Paul Pitts made headlines last year when he was arrested on domestic battery charges following a confrontation with his then-girlfriend. The conflicting emotions surrounding that fateful night seem to have settled like a heavy cloud over the lyrics on Surfer Blood’s second album—and major label debut—Pythons. Despite this dark lyrical shift, the group is still aping sunny surf-rock and collegiate-pop tropes. The best examples of that bittersweet mood are the screamo-tinged firebrands “Demon Dance” and “Weird Shapes.” Both highlight a youthful group trying to kick against the restrictive genre box they’ve found themselves encased within. These instances also give Pitts an ambitious stage to exorcise his devils. Slower numbers such as “Needles and Pins,” “Slow Six” and “Dark 1,000’s aka Prom Song” meander and never congeal into anything interesting. The latter features a flat vocal delivery by Pitts and a misplaced use of cowbell (“Less cowbell!”). Veteran producer Gil Norton—who helmed the boards for the Pixies’ Doolittle—lends this lopsided record a corrosive-yet-professional sound. Despite Norton’s best efforts, nearly half of these alt-pop tracks lack the cunning melodic sensibility of Astro Coast.