Disappointing follow-up record delivers a tepid take on power-pop, where there’s little real power and nothing pops.

Following their debut album back in 2010, Florida’s Surfer Blood were at the top of many Most Promising lists, as they delivered fun bass-infused groove into a surf rock sub-genre more often associated with stoned swaying than dancing.

That scene has gone back out with the tide during the long wait for this second album, but Pythons opens hopefully with mid-tempo single ‘Demon Dance’ highlighting the familiar sweet lead vocals from John Paul Pitts, and drawing heavily on a couple of obvious influences – Weezer’s scuzzy guitar over ’60s-style pop, and a carbon copy of Frank Black’s demented scream.

The next few songs trace the same pleasant template, with features like multiple guitars fuzzing over doo-wop backing harmonies. But for a contemporary take on power-pop, there’s little that acts as a hook, other than more screams.

Unfortunately, where Pythons’ first half could be seen as flailing for inspiration to hold onto, the second half feels like the floating corpse. Lyrically, things centre around rom-com-level love and lazy similes, most notably on ‘Say Yes To Me’ – “I love you dearly, so let me see…I’m true blue”, and the original song (not a cover of the ‘60s classic) ‘Needles And Pins’.

‘Blair Witch’ has to be titled ironically, as rather than recalling its namesake, the sappy tune sounds recorded specifically to pitch to a Richard Curtis movie soundtrack – “The more I see love the more I need love.” Many beloved bands have reappropriated the classic love pop song format effectively over the years, but unlike Teenage Fanclub, Camera Obscura or The New Pornographers, Surfer Blood don’t appear to have any particular love or respect for the material they’re drawing upon.

2/5 stars

SIMON TOPPER

Pythons is out now through Sire Records/Warner Bros.

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