The Explorers Club Freedom Wind

Surfing along on a wave of hype, the Explorers Club appeared a year-and-a-half ago with their near-perfect emulation of the Beach Boys, and it was a glorious thing to behold. But since then, some of their thunder was stolen by Panda Bear, whose Person Pitch reinvented the surf sound in a way that nobody expected. So, where does that leave Freedom Wind, the debut album from the South Carolina band? They still sound a lot like the Beach Boys, and they are very good at it, borrowing all the best ideas and throwing in a bit of Phil Spector for good measure, but it feels like a lost opportunity. The Explorers Club simply sound stale and derivative, just a band trying to sound like the Beach Boys rather than doing something interesting and new with their influences. That said, taken purely as a pop record, Freedom Wind is a nice piece of ear candy that’s impressive if only from a technical standpoint. Yet anyone looking for more than a Beach Boys homage will be disappointed, and most will have heard it all before. (Dead Oceans)