Surf culture has suffered a lack of pivotal vanguards in recent times. Musical exports have equated to lazy, conceited production with little focus on sonic enlightenment and more focus on the aesthetics of stoner nostalgia. And, as the deluge of social media canoodles with substandard sounds of nonchalant surfer delinquents, such as fashionable novices, Best Coast, it comes as an abating reassurance that the genre is in no way as fleeting as the vaporised swill of spliff smoke.
Finally, with the release of their self-titled debut, Two Wounded Birds, who are one of our top ten bands to watch out for in 2012, seem fully prepared to grapple with integrity over image.
Riding the waves off of the back of their 2010 EP, Keep Dreaming Baby, the band have remained stalwart patriots to delivering vintage pop diamonds. Consisting of twelve progressively sentimental odes to the ‘rebel with a heart,’ Two Wounded Birds focus their attention on emanating throwback rock’n’roll jingles, so authentic they could almost be mistaken for the real thing.
Coincidentally, along with the unavoidable similarity to their unambiguous tour-buds, The Drums, there is a distinctly potent whiff of post-chillwave chic drifting between each segment. The distant Hawaiian guitar twang, coupled with nuances of 60’s psyche warbles in Night Patrol, or the abrasive Beach Boys crudity of opener, Together Forever, are equally as traditional as they are acknowledging of current trends. But, where similar bands fall short, Two Wounded Birds’ straightforward songwriting approach is as believable as Brian Wilson’s affection towards a Bahama shirt.
And instead of repeating the post-Pet Sounds abstruseness, Two Wounded Birds channel their fresh faced energy into short, punchy pop ditties. Daddy’s Junk plays like a 45inch Cramps record being played at 33inch speed. To Be Young becomes a signature to sobered slackers: deceptively angsty and boisterous. Accompanied by such impeccable production, every shading of the afternoon sun seems to have been captured with every snare snap and every six-string boing.
Yet, like the turn of tides, the record travels from polite punk youthfulness towards more of a washed out timidity. Following the instrumental Tarantino-esque interpretation of western trailblazing (much akin to Miserlou, or an acerbic Deltones), the album slows to the pace of driftwood circling around the fringe of a shoreline. The tone in, lead vocals, Johnny Danger’s melodic patterns soften to weepy whines. Whereas the opening numbers fixate on upbeat summer vibes, tracks such as I’m No Saviour and No Goodbyes oscillate around soft, slow guitarwork and moody lyrical material. Dangers’ reverberating vocal lines become almost Lynchian in execution – eerie and elegiac – only intensified by the album’s closer, Growing, an evident homage to The xx’s bleak minimalism and dark composition.
Despite the ungovernable buoyancy bouncing around Two Wounded Birds’ debut, one fault to note is how clearly effortless everything seems to them. With the impending release for the self-titled this June, the group have proved their ability to clone a carbon copy of a pre-existing sound. Their next task should be to challenge the tradition and build upon their influences. They have the potential to revitalise a genre being lost to sea by an over populated blogosphere and general musical ignorance. Here’s hoping.
by Tom Watson