A couple of weeks ago marked the 20 year anniversary of the release of Weezer‘s sophomore album ‘Pinkerton’, an occasion that was remarked on widely in the indie-music-press, and with good reason. Whilst the album seems to have been personally labelled as an unwanted milestone around the neck of the at-the-time fame-beleaguered frontman Rivers Cuomo, for most others it is seen as a seminal record that has echoed through the following two decades of the shadowy side of guitar pop.
These days the term ‘sad boy indie’ is applied widely to acts such as Alex G, Car Seat Headrest or Whitney and it’s at least partially down to the path trodden by the harsh tones and slackery self-loathing encapsulated and expounded by this fuzzy masterpiece.
And latest in the line of 90’s indie-rock revivalists is London/Leeds based scuzz merchants Black Surf, with their recently released debut EP.
Having had my interest piqued with the release of their first two tracks ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Army of Sheep’, it’s a delight to listen to this group spread across four solid tracks that capture the twilight period between sunny days and Autumnal evenings. Let’s Pretend It’s Summer is 12 minutes of subtle, raucous anti-fun.
Opening with the ping-pong synths and wandering guitars of the EP’s nominated smash-hit is ‘Sink’, a song with great pop sensibilities. LPIS lays out its intent from the start, whilst the overall tone is bright and colourful echoing the artwork, the lyrics and exasperation in lead-singer Ali Epstone’s voice instil a depth and darkness.
Second track ‘Bastard Man’ sounds like an ironic take on all those times you realise you’re acting like a prick but can’t really help it, a thread of painful self-awareness and overthought that runs thematically through the whole EP. The first two tracks in this sense highlight this scattered approach to self-reflection with their scattered approach to instrumentation and production, and the effect is pronounced.
The second half of the EP however contains the two shortest and simplest tracks of the collection: ‘Get Up’ and ‘Baby Blue Washburn’. Two garage jams which apply a touch of light relief to proceedings and waste no time in jamming out their hummable tunes.
Overall, Let’s Pretend It’s Summer is a tight and concise garage rock record of great personal exploration. With more infectious hooks than an ill-maintained bait shop and more self-depreciation than Chris Martin chumming up to Noel Gallagher, this is certainly an EP you should check out in your lunch break (or two cigarette breaks).
Black Surf’s ‘Let’s Pretend It’s Summer’ EP is out now. Buy on iTunes here.