There’s a handful of ballads too--the surest sign of maturity--but just when we think they’ve given up the pacy numbers forever, they sucker-punch us at the death with the perfect one-two combo of ‘Unwanted Place’ and ‘Young’.
Surfing Strange is a picture of a band not in transition, but in an especially quick process of maturation. The results end up being no less instantly exciting, but more lasting and poignant than what came before.
This is everything a punk record should be; abrasive, aggressive, occasionally a little gauche, but with an emotional core that’s unmistakeable, and that elevates Surfing Strange from a enjoyable album to a genuinely gripping one.
Surfing Strange is a tight and coherent little album whose greatest strength lies in its youthful energy and sense of the ups and downs of the early twenties--the lows of uncertainty and malaise, and the highs of excitement and anticipation.
It’s a familiar story to hear DIY bands frustratingly avoiding their past strengths once they secure some proper studio time; both records have a more “mature” sound than their lo-fi predecessors, but I find the songwriting largely forgettable.