The Surfing Magazines knot their slackened indie impulses through a slow-simmer debut filled with rope-burn riffs and a midnight vocal slink. The London foursome drags the line directly from the VU and Jonathan Richmond schools of aloofness, swaggering through songs with an innate eloquence that hasn’t really been felt since guitar rock’s mid-aughts bubble. They embody the essence of detached cool, strumming with a purposeful, but decidedly laconic touch that flicks out frayed runs with a sigh that seems at odds with the lacerations they leave. If this were another era, one could only imagine a cigarette dangling unperturbed from the mouths of players in forgotten accessory.
However, while they find roots in an American past, there’s something indelibly British about the album – a stateliness that hangs in the air as the notes decay behind the fold. And thankfully there’s very little actual surf influence here, aside from the loungey instrumental “A Fran Escaped,” it’s kept to just a flourish and a name. Instead, the band projects an image of art-dallianced mod rockers whose jazz friends have come to rock a horn session, beefing up their stripped bare rumblers with equal doses of swing and skronk. Somehow they make it sound refreshing and, while there’s definitely a note of pretension here, like VU they get away with it since their charms outweigh their indulgences
The bones of the band crib decisively from the Wave Pictures half of the members’ background, with no real shreds of Slow Club’s lush indie-pop in sight. Though, what they’ve done with the same basic structure far outstrips Tattersall and Rozycki’s previous catalog. It’s hard to hammer at the essence of The Surfing Magazine’s sound without acknowledging that it carries deep debts to tried and true tropes, but what makes their version stand out is that they pull it off effortlessly and with such a cocked smile that the listener just has to appreciate their confidence and nod with appreciation.
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