This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Pet Sounds, Brian Wilson’s paean to the newly discovered gods of psych rock. In its half century of existence Pet Sounds has gained a following, both cult and otherwise, and has been a Matryoshka doll of influences to bands around the world.
I would find it safe to say that San Diego psych rock trio Animals in the Attic are one such band, whether they realize it or not. Their full-length debut Half-Asleep Surf is comprised of eleven soft and scantily clad surf-inspired pop tunes, awash in lazy-hazy guitar riffs.
Guitarist and songwriter Spencer Rakela describes the album using the same hyphenated subgenre that the record is named after. Rakela believes firmly in the powers of meditation and says that “I write my best music after meditating. It is written in a meditative state in order to bring tranquility to a generation filled with anxiety.”
There is nothing anxious or hurrying about Half-Asleep Surf. Oftentimes it is like a cat that wakes, stretches its body out and then proceeds to curl right back up again and return to sleep. The opening track “Take Care” is a sunny and slightly up-tempo pop song with shimmery guitars and melodic ooh’s and ah’s.
Next is the warble-y, psych soaked “Underwater” which flows into the uber indie “Island of Two,” which sounds like something a young James Mercer may have penned in his heyday. Not be out done is the ultra-catchy and water themed “You are the Ocean” with its airy vocal harmonies and bouncy bits of synth it’s got Pet Sounds written all over it as does the eerie and ethereal ride that is “Not Meant for This.”
All in all Half-Asleep Surf isn’t necessarily a very ambitious record, it’s not breaking any new ground, but I’d be willing to bet the farm that that’s not the point of the music Animals in the Attic is trying to make with this record. Much like Wilson’s magnum opus however Half-Asleep Surf might just help to calm those nerves and give you a momentary reprieve from the fact that the world is an awful and dark place but every once in a while a little light shines through.
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