Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Surf School Dropouts - Summer is a State of Mind

The Surf School Dropouts are a surf pop band from Denmark who have released a new album called "Summer is a State of Mind". The band has 4 members, Andreas Jacobsen: vocals, keyboard, guitar, bass and drums; Christian Bendix: vocals, guitar and bass; Jari Nielsen: vocals; Martin Jensen; vocals.

The album is heavily inspired by 60s surf groups like Jan and Dean, the Sun Rays and the Beach Boys from 1962 after being visited by the Beach Boys from 2012.

The Dropouts are committed to trying to recapture the sound that the Beach Boys invented in 1961 and perfected until 1965, only to abandon it in 1966. They are trapped in that 5 years between 1961-1966, but the only problem is that it is 2012 and they are from Denmark and not California. Having said that, the musicianship on the album is purely fantastic, but the vocals, despite being always completely in key are often underwhelming.

Bands that rely on vocal harmonies like Queen, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Explorers Club or The Carpenters would overdub their vocals sometimes up to 80 times to create a very thick and lush sound, but it appears like the Dropouts are lacking in the vocal department on this album. They hit all the right notes, but the vocals just appear "thin". Despite this one drawback, the album is a nostalgic trip and picks up where Shut Down Volume 2 left off.

The album begins with the epic "Summer is a State of Mind". The song sounds almost exactly like "Don't Worry Baby" in the first couple seconds with clean guitar strumming, mid tempo drums and 4 part vocal harmonies before shifting into something more unique. The song has a typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus beginning but gets very interesting in the middle of the song with an organ breakdown with wood blocks serving as percussion. This middle section has great vocals and has a very interesting shift back into the chorus before finally ending with an A Cappella coda. This first song sets the mood for what the rest of the album will deliver.

Key standouts on the album are Follow The Sun, with its harpsichord background and Turtles-esque vocals, Beach Bound, with its ukelele chords and busy vocal harmonies and The Road Ahead of Me, a heart-felt ballad with a great theremin riff in it.

I would highly recommend this album if you want to hear the Beach Boys from 1962 after meeting the Beach Boys from 2012.