By Mohamed Hassan
Released March 26th, 2013 - Mom + Pop
It's the fourth studio album by our favourite garage punkers, and while it's a stark departure from the band's energetic and defiant sound, it's a welcomed sign of a band finally at home with their sound.
The album kicks off with the adrenaline pumping Sail To The Sun, and it feels for just a moment that we're in for another King of the Beach. However, things take a dark turn pretty early on, and the album's big single Demon To Lean On and Lunge Forward lead the way for what is at times quite a depressing ride.
In short - It's angsty! No, really angsty! It almost feels like Nathan Williams is going through a pretty damning reality check after the boyishness and carelessness of their last record. At some points, it can get a little overwhelming, and Everything Is My Fault and I Can't Dream seem to wallow in their own misery. Thankfully, the album is still sprinkled with a few up-tempo tunes here and there, but the overarching bleakness of the album is at times inescapable.
There have been a lot of comparisons between this album and Weezer's Blue Album. They are justified, and it's most visible on the album's titular track Afraid Of Heights. The soft blurred chugging of guitar and Williams' melodic droning at moments feels like he's channelling Cuomo himself, while at once being unashamed of doing so. Williams himself admitted listening to the Blue Album on a daily basis during recording.
From a production standpoint, the album sounds much fuller than its predecessor, without coming across as too plastic-y, and that's no doubt thanks to the enlisting of John Hill as producer. It's a nod in the right direction and the band looks like their becoming comfortable in their own skin, which is always promising to see.
But the good news is its right down the alley of what we've come to expect, even love, about the band. It's an angry, youthful throwback to the iconic surfer grunge rock of the 90s, and while it doesn't possess the same energy its predecessor had, it still has the same strange awkward warmth. In many ways, it's a reflection of a band coming to terms with their place in the music scene, and realising that at some point, they have to put away the bongs and find a job
4 / 5