You wouldn’t know it from their sound, but Black Surf stand as a paragon of what modern technology can achieve when making music. The band’s initial demos were swapped over FaceTime and Dropbox between Leeds and Sydney, which would eventually become their debut EP Let’s Pretend It’s Summer. But for such a thoroughly 21st Century way of networking, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d have heard some of these riffs spilling out of Rivers Cuomo’s amps circa 1995. And even with the fragmented genesis of this EP, Black Surf’s output is one hell of a solid listen.
Though it only clocks in at just over ten minutes, Let’s Pretend It’s Summer feels concise rather than slight. As an opening salvo, it features everything a band like this needs, namely thick, grungy guitars (Baby Blue Washburn), a smattering of skewed, wiry synth lines (Sink) and plenty of pop sensibilities with a particular ear for Beach Boys-style melodies (Get Up).
The fact that these can be checked off with such ease does betray a slight formulaic streak present in Black Surf’s writing, but it’s easily overshadowed by the joyous clatter of these four tracks. Get Up teeters on the line between pop-punk and indie rock with jangling guitars and a fuzzed-up filter slathered over everything, while Bastard Man is lifted straight from the ‘Geeky Love Songs’ chapter of the Cuomo Playbook.
As individual tracks, there’s very little to fault here. There isn’t much room on Let’s Pretend It’s Summer for things to go awry, and thankfully, everything falls in line. It might be incredibly lightweight, but then again, that’s exactly the sort of thing this sort of music should be – a short fix designed to last for a few hazy summer days. It’s ephemerality is undoubtedly its main undoing, but as a preview for what Black Surf can achieve, Let’s Pretend It’s Summer does exactly what it should. Great stuff.
For fans of: Weezer, Ozma, Best Coast
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Let’s Pretend It’s Summer’ by Black Surf is released on 26th August on Cowboy Records.