Surf City: Jekyll Island

New Zealand quartet bring on a proggy summer.

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Surf City have been refining their winsome dream-pop for over a decade now.

This third album, following on from 2013’s We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This, finds them aglow with good-time vibes, their honeyed melodies coated in a thick glaze of psychedelia and fuzzed-up guitars. For the most part it’s very easy on the ear, which is not to say there’s little going on here, only that it moves along at its own langorous pace. The mood is further heightened by the muggy vocals of singer/guitarist Davin Stoddard, who sounds like a softer version of Joey Ramone when he’s not intoning like Pete Kember. Indeed, Kember’s group Spacemen 3 is a good reference point for Surf City, whose hallucinogenic space-rock recalls that band’s 80s landmark, Playing With Fire, and Paisley Underground luminaries The Dream Syndicate. Beat The Summer Heat, Indian Summer and One Too Many Things, with its gorgeous, gliding chord progression, are all highly infectious. The trippy Thumbs Up, meanwhile, is positively euphoric, as is The End, with its flurries of itchy beats. There’s probably a limit to how long they can keep doing this, but for now it works exceedingly well.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.