Surf Curse’s third and latest LP, Heaven Surrounds You is a collection of ever-changing moods and themes. The surf rock duo pulled ideas influenced by their move to LA and their love of cult movies, blending cinematic riffs with rhythms that pulse with forward momentum. This album is an epic story of discovery, as Nick Rattigan and Jacob Rubeck find themselves in a new environment, armed with a newly refined sound. They have progressed a step further from their previous lo-fi tendencies, to a more sophisticated and polished production. Like a coming-of-age film, their songwriting has matured in line with their life in a new scene.
“Maps to the Stars” heralds the start of the journey, with a restless kinetic rhythm and a repeating verse that comes and goes like the scenery viewed from a bus window. The line “Oh my heart is on fire / Burn whoever you are” signals an anticipation for the challenges yet to come. The carrier single “Disco” has the best hook of the album. Inspired by the Last Days of Disco, it has an irresistible lively pace and a music video that’s reminiscent of dance-offs in 90’s flicks.
The conflict of the album intensifies at this point. The mood shifts to unease with “River’s Edge”. It reflects struggles of self-identity at this new place, with the leftover residue of a past relationship. “Midnight Cowboy” mirrors their experience in a similar way. The folk-ish delivery of the vocals are accompanied by bright and modern sounds. The imagery depicts a bustling nightlife, representing the change in lifestyle that the cowboys must face in the city. “Hour of the Wolf” is the climax of this sequence, inspired by an Ingmar Bergman film of the same title. An eerie dissonance seeps through the instruments. The theme of the movie is transformed by the line “Beware of the bleeding moon / Cause I’m still missing you all day”, where instead of death, the witching hour is a daily moment spent missing someone.
“Opera” is another standout with its melancholic acoustic guitar, the song depicts a romantic tragedy of falling deeply in love with someone despite “the games we play with each other’s lives”. Every quiver of Rattigan’s voice reflects the agony of trying to keep up with a failed love.
It’s great to see Surfe Curse’s growth throughout their career. They have taken moods and emotions from personal experience and other forms of art and infused it in their music. A true mark of craftsmanship, resulting in a unique flavor of surf rock, where instead of sun-kissed beaches, the music is heavily surrounded by neon lights in a big city.
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