Written By: Filip Teovanovic
Originality: (3 / 5) Vocals/Flow: (3 / 5) Lyrics: (3 / 5) Production: (3 / 5) Average: (3 / 5)
Snowdonia is the fourth album by indie rock quartet from Palm Beach, Florida. Following critically glorified 2010 debut Astro Coast, Surfer Blood managed to surf right into the wave of what was current in the sea of indie rock. Unfortunately, their next two materials did not deliver the same flow. Pythons and 1000 Palms were not bad per se, but they were lukewarm, almost absolutely mediocre. They drowned in meh.
Surfer Blood are not the same band anymore, at least when it comes to its members. Bassist Kevin Williams left the band in 2015 and, strangely enough, decided to change his career as if his experience in Surfer Blood was negative. In May of 2016, guitarist Thomas Fekete died after a three month struggle with the rare case of stomach cancer. John Paul Pitts (vocal/guitar) and Tyler Schwartz invited their high-school friends Lindsay Mills (bass) and Mike McCleary to replace departed members. Now that we concluded band’s new formation, let’s see how it all affected their music.
What’s surprising the first time you listen to Snowdonia is that it comes off as light and optimistic. It’s a bit surprising considering what they had to deal with in the previous couple of years. The album commences with “Matter Of Time”, a melodic guitar pop that is on brand of the band. Harmonious vocal of Lindsay Mills is perfectly connected with John Paul Pitts’ vocal, which provides refreshing dynamic. “Frozen” and “Dino Jay” continue in similar tempo, offering you enough of harmonious and melodic solutions so that you wouldn’t have to skip them.
“Six Flags in F or G” is hands down the album’s standout. It sounds as spaghetti-Western theme song before it morphs into signature pop sound and ends in guitar shenanigans characteristic for pavement. From the fifth song, the album suffers from diminished dynamic. Although the title track has interesting moments, these are frequently interrupted by the less impressive ones, so you are left with impression that the songs has been on for too long. The second half of the album, although more compact, simply does not have the ability to create the enchanting atmosphere from the first half. Anyhow, every song contains at least a few attention-worthy harmonious moments, especially the closing track “Carrier Pigeon”, a dedication to the singer’s mother who is also struggling with severe illness.
Albums that will take your breath away are pretty rare nowadays. Contrary to Snowdonia, Astro Coast was close to take your breath away. Even though Snowdonia is a level up compared to previous two releases of the band, it is simply not enough for Surfer Blood to reinvigorate the spark that flamed on their debut. But maybe this is enough for the next chapter in their career. That’s yet to be determined.