Music Reviews
Carefree Theatre

Surfer Blood Carefree Theatre

(Kanine Records) Rating - 4/10
Was it ever worth caring about Surfer Blood? Not that there’s anything wrong with the Florida surf-pop-rock-post-punk group, but most people first heard about the quartet with Astro Coast, and it hasn’t really withstood the test of time. With an occasional touch of beefier sounds, conga parts, and power-pop hooks, they stood out from their early 2010s indie pop rock peers just fine. Still, can you remember a single song from Astro Coast aside from Swim and it’s annoying glockenspiel touches? I doubt it. More importantly, can you believe that Surfer Blood is on their sixth album? I doubt you care.
Let's give Surfer Blood some credit; this fifth record has the occasional moment of promise that Astro Coast had. Signalled by a project name that references lead vocalist John Paul Pitts’ favorite music venue from his childhood in Florida, some youthful energy has returned on Carefree Theatre. That vigor appears on the awkward and punk-y groove of Parkland (Into the Silence), the first Surfer Blood song in years that feels genuinely infectious. The subject matter feels a little crude in song form, but the instrumentation makes up for it for the most part. Aside from that cut, quality is rare here. A straightforward organ part and crunchy guitar solo boosts Unconditional into an album highlight, but that’s about where this release’s good songs stop. 
For the most part on Carefree Theatre, you’re stuck with hazy textures (In My Mind) and stilted grooves (Carefree Theatre) that are simply boring. That doesn’t even start to describe Dewar, which is an endless, creepy slog with forced lines about the military-industrial-complex. Worst of all, the songs never feel worth the trouble -- if you want pop rock that has the occasional post-punk touch, you can just go to Sports Team or Catholic Action these days. By the time you get to the childish closer, Rose Bowl, it feels downright exhausting just to sit through this mid-tempo, forgettable background noise.