Surf rock seems to be a genre that’s withstood generations of musical shifts, relentless all through the psychedelic ’60s, the metal ’70s, the synthy ’80s, the alternative ’90s, and straight into the new millennium. Even when it didn’t sound like it rode a wave right onto your speakers’ shores, there’s never really been a time since its inception that it couldn’t be heard in abundance.
So some could say that albums like sister surf rock group Bleached‘s debut full-length Ride Your Heart are a dime a dozen. Especially among established contemporaries such as the Drums, Best Coast, Wavves, Veronica Falls, and Tennis. And those people wouldn’t be totally wrong. There’s certainly been a surge in today’s indie rock banks of this particular style, and at times these melodies can start to all sound very much the same.
But there’s a reason why music like this maintains such a strong presence. Its sound embodies a feeling of freedom from everyday life. In all its potential to be mundane, its mere existence symbolizes an escape from the mundane. Those surf guitars send your mind straight to the beach, which is a common place people consider a break from reality, relaxing in the sun and sand, splashing around in the water to wash your cares right away. You can be just sitting at your desk, but when these songs play, you’re taken there, and it’s such a release.
Bleached doesn’t try to mess with this formula, instead keeping the style pretty classic on Ride Your Heart. At times, Jennifer and Jessie Clavin sound like Joey and Johnny Ramone incarnate — especially on album opener “Looking for a Fight” and the subsequent “Next Stop” — but with more reverb.
“Dead in Your Head” lands pleasantly with pulsing bass guitar and drums, and the light shake of a tambourine. “Love Spells” is an uptempo brew that belongs in a beachside rock club for optimal enjoyment, and I’d sure shake my Sun-In drenched locks to “Searching Through the Past” over a black-and-white checkered floor. The album comes with a few throwaways — “Outta My Mind,” “Dreaming Without You,” and even the title track drag down the vibrant energy established throughout the rest of Ride Your Heart, like a swell coming to shore. That’s not to say the songs are all slow or downers, but they’re relatively bare of imagination and it’s noticeable when they appear, while songs like “Dead Boy” and “Waiting By the Telephone” excel by their punk sensibilities and album closers “Guy Like You” and “When I Was Yours” charm with their breezy, throwback nature.
So, all in all, Bleached has a set of nine great songs on their hands, and that’s certainly not bad at all. Get the MP3 version at Amazon right now while it’s on sale for $5.