When I dove into writing a review of the superb new record from New Zealand's Surf City, I promised myself that I wouldn't resort to referring to any other famous NZ bands in said review. Well, that's just about impossible 'cause "Jekyll Island", out in a few weeks on Fire Records, is very nearly the best Clean album that The Clean didn't produce.
Now, one may say that defaulting to a Clean comparison is lazy writing but I say it's a way of complimenting this band very highly. Sure, opener "Beat the Summer Heat" sounds like more acts than just The Clean; it sounds a string of classic bands from the Sixties, namely any group Neil Young played in. "Spec City" adds in a touch of Television -- Tom Verlaine vocal delivery plus Richard Lloyd-style guitar stylings -- over top of a catchy riff. "Jekyll Island and the Psycosphere" marries some Church-esque guitar lines with the soaring vocals of early Spiritualized, or even The Verve. The cut is one of the highlights of Jekyll Island.
In the context of the whole record "Hollow Veins" sounds even better than it already did, while "One Too Many Things" is all Jesus and Mary Chain snarl melded to a Byrds-like hook. "Leave Your Worries" charms with a trace of Dinosaur Jr. set over a charging, nearly martial beat. It's another splendid and catchy track on this excellent album.
Jekyll Island by Surf City is one of the pleasant surprises of early 2015. While I have referenced The Clean here, Surf City is certainly more than just another band in that mold. While there are tracks here that remind a listener of those things that made Kilgour and his mates so marvelous, there's so much more to absorb here too. Owing equal debts to NYC punk and the bands from the heyday of Flying Nun Records, Surf City are creating wonderful music here that swirls around your head on first listen. I defy you to spin "The End" and not get hooked on the tune. From the strong backing vocals to the wild drumming to the guitar hooks, the cut is a superb example of why Jekyll Island is a great set of songs.
Beguilingly bridging multiple genres, all excellent ones, Jekyll Island by Surf City is a a very special record indeed. Jekyll Island is out in a few weeks on Fire Records.
Follow Surf City on their official Facebook page.