Windsurf's Coastlines is certainly a product of California, but of its beach culture more than its surf society. Northern California then, not those bronzed and plucked LA parts. The duo—Daniel Judd of Sorcerer and Sam Grawe of Hatchback—create sun baked music not for jumping in or getting wet, but for the wave-gazers and castle-in-the-sanders. Coastlines' breezy Balearic vibes soundtrack solitary vistas, lone figures perched cliffside taking in a breaking or dying day. Perhaps faultily tagged by Prins Thomas himself as "Edgar Froese meets Steely Dan," it's the debut album on Thomas' Internasjonal label, though that may have more to do with his taste in shore-wind anthems than much similarity, stylistically.
As one might expect from Grawe's recent full-length debut as Hatchback on Lo Recordings, Coastlines concerns itself more with generating moods than really getting your pale winter ass movin'. Blending fleecy electronica, layabout house and vocal-based pop into lengthy appeals for a state of recline, Windsurf shift their base templates slowly, allowing the album to grow unnoticed without sacrificing its plush comforts. With funk guitar and a chunky beat, "White Soweto" is the duo's sturdiest effort, while "Future Warriors" twists early '80s electro into a jerky bird-walk that never feels too bound by stylistic revisionism.
Standout "Pocket Check" has an earworm robotic cheer that's pretty hard to deny. A cascading synth melody ripples outward from the center, playing lazy sandbox games with a bed of wah-wah guitars. It's this cheeky sense of levity that sets much of Coastlines apart from the bland slo-mo of the last few years, toeing the edge of cheesy quiet-hour jams without giving into irony or on the other end, musically, overt hyperbole. "The Big Island" has a hard time swallowing its own smiles, taking a break mid-track for a jubilant fuzzbox grind with acoustic guitar fills right out of Santana III. "Windsurf" itself feels dense but somehow languid, capable of long-limbed elasticity for such stubby melodies and blunt synth coloring. But album closer "Crystal Neon" best reveals the brainier side of the duo's San Fran cool. A long lull of synths, guitars, and easy rhythms that owes as much to figures like Vangelis or Klaus Schulze as to derelict beardos like Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, "Crystal Neon" exudes a Zen-like patience set to wind chime time.
For all of their simple allure though, sometimes Windsurf clutter their downy instrumentals with their pretty cheap singing. The duo's gratingly generic vocals undermine the cotton puff glide of "Light as Daylight," its chillout gone too schmaltzy, like an art-student who insists on talking over pleasant marijuana haze about his thoughts on Buddhist meditation. Their next single "Bird of Paradise" spoils a watercolor Rhodes pattern and subtle sway with the same sensitivo delivery. They're unwelcome distractions, especially for compositions emotive enough to not need verbalization. Still, these awkward moments are minor missteps: Windsurf's working some geek-star charm overall, and their fluid beachrock will play well wherever you bed for winter hideaway.
Buy Windsurf - Coastlines at
Tracklist: Windsurf - Coastlines 01. Moonlight Sun
02. Light As Daylight
03. Pocket Check
05. Cracking The Cube
06. White Soweto
07. Future Warriors
08. Bird Of Paradise
09. The Big Island
10. Crystal Neon
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