Published Feb 01, 2017Surfer Blood's fourth full-length was written solely by vocalist/guitarist John Paul Pitts, partly because at the time he was the only songwriter left in the band, and partly because an album as personal and contemplative as Snowdonia simply couldn't have been born through committee.
After the departure of long-time bassist Kevin Williams, founding guitarist Thomas Fekete passed away from cancer in 2016, leaving Pitts and drummer Tyler Schwarz to contemplate the future of the group. Pitts began to write the songs that would become the latest LP, all while reassembling his broken band, and the results are understandably heart-wrenching and brooding — and understandably hopeful.
After a few textbook Surfer Blood tunes, including the jangly/punchy "Matter of Time" and bouncy "Dino Jay," Pitts reaches for rhythms, structures and themes that might seem alien to the average Surfer Blood fan, and allow the Florida musician to safely make the exit from his comfort zone. The hypnotic guitar of "Six Flags in F for G," the patient but exploratory eight-minute title track and haunted lyrical content of "Taking Care of Eddy" all feel like musical risks for Pitt, Schwarz and company.
Although those moments may be too fleeting to call Snowdonia a complete departure for the band, fans can will appreciate the added ambition here, on top of the elements they've come to know and love. (Joyful Noise)