“Have you heard the devil’s back in town” starts out the slightly off tempo singing on “It’s a Common Life.” The theme of casual, “’sup bro” encounters with demonic forces infests Surf City’s We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This; an album about small-time ennui and unassaultive surf pop. Surf City devote nine tracks to recapturing 2009s surf rock explosion while paying tribute to indie idols Pavement.
Surf City manage to capture the same sunny atmosphere as Surfer Blood did on their debut Astro Coast, but with significantly more sonic variety and a much sparser atmosphere. “I Want You” could easily have been a wall of sound style blowout, but the song is sparse enough to have been recorded in an active classroom. This kind of low key vibe is persistent on We Knew and it goes hand in hand with Surf City’s beachy vibe.
“Oceanic Graphs of the Wilderness” sees Surf City attempt to add some experimental production elements to a cleverly repetitive pop song. The result is unfortunately more Death Cab For Cutie than Radiohead, but the shimmering, roving synth lines bring ample amounts of delicate bluster and suggest a possible stylistic evolution for Surf City’s next release. Though We Knew is undoubtedly still somewhat locked into the quagmire of surf pop that dominated indie publications four years ago, Surf City have shown themselves to be at least a little more willing to branch out than some of their contemporaries. The result: a fairly pleasing pop album with enough production twists to keep a non-surf rock devotee interested.