Carpet Denim is the latest release from California’s Tijuana Panthers. The trio specializes in surf-infused british era punk that captures the sunshine and beaches of its locale. The band has been known for their scrappy and stripped down approach to vintage rock & roll, but in this latest offering, they open themselves up to new ideas. Refining their sound with a few studio innovations while staying true to the carefree attitude of its roots.
Take the opener “Path of Totality” as an example, which is sharp and jangly punk mixed with surf melodic lines. It balances between harsh and playful harmonies, a wild and conflicted ride from start to end. “First Date” is full of reverb, claps and discordant guitar lines. A polarizing choice for a song that’s about asking someone out to a first date. Based on a true story, this is a fun recollection that’s equally enticing and hypnotizing. “Little Pamplemousse” captures the playfulness of SoCal surf while sharing the day-to-day adventures of a Father and Son. An endearing insight into life as a punk rock Dad.
The Panthers start switching things up in “Generation Singular” which is held together by a droning drum and bass line while synth waves wheeze in and out like laser beams. Stabbing staccato vocals ala The Clash warns us about the perils of the tech age, where the ubiquity of information can lead us to darker times. “TV People” follows up with the feeling of despair and loneliness. It wrangles with the idea that we’re all becoming more and more isolated, with no one to be with except for characters on screen.
“You Died” is the track that packs the heaviest emotion. It addresses the passing of a father figure and is a reflection in one’s own mortality. It asks the question: “Do I have the same heart you had in patient men?”.
The album closes with “Friday Night Baby”, which is a stripped down lo-fi guitar and vocal jam. Even with the minimalistic setup it maintains the smooth and electrifying dynamic that characterizes the band’s sound.
There’s a lot to unpack into this 14 track collection. Unlike their previous albums which were composed of raw energy that captured the garage rock spirit, Carpet Denim was crafted across years of songwriting and went through a methodical production process. There is rich variety here, each number has its own story that together forms a narrative, resembling life in all its craziness.
This album sees the Tijuana Tigers moving through mature themes of self-introspection and musings on the state of the society. All of these come wrapped in surf rock that’s timeless and familiar.