Bands like Surprise Party are the reason for the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” As worn out as the phrase is, it’s hard to keep that in mind visiting their Bandcamp page, complete with a bloody take on “The Last Supper,” a black background and purple and red writing. What do you think you’re about to hear? Hard rock? Metal. Nope.
You’re about to hear a fuzzy psychedelic pop band that wouldn’t feel out of place playing on the beach.
It’s a surprise (hahaha, get it?) at its most pleasant. Over 12 songs you will get a consistent batch of fuzzy guitars, swirls of organ and energetic drumming. Mischa Decter has a pleasant voice that carries the hazy summer vibes, with many of the songs bearing simple messages of navigating crushes and relationships.
One could almost see Heart of Love as an album centred around the various stages of romance. “I Fall in Love” features a flurry of guitar and a pinch of sunshine, and captures that rush of happiness when first realizing you have a crush on someone. “Super Cool Girlfriend,” with its fuzzy, garage-rock-y vibe and lyrics about how she’s, well, super cool.
Except that’s immediately countered by “I Hate Girls,” which slows things down a little bit and lays on the organ. “I hate girls and I wish I was gay,” Decter laments, though maybe it’s not all the girls’ fault. “I wish they would be more receptive/I don’t know how to compliment them,” he says later.
While the summery vibes are great, the band shows strength outside the realm of songs you’d listen to on a beach. “Cut Me” starts off with downright menacing guitars and shimmering organ. The guttural “huh” sound Decter utters sets up a much darker tone, reveling less on the beach and more in the gutters of 90s grunge. And while the band doesn’t seem like it would lend itself to the remix treatment, AudioOpera does a bang-up job with “Saturday.” The initial song features some sweet bass, but the remix strips away 1/3 of the song’s running time and trades the instruments for sparse but effective synths. Can we get this entire album remixed by AudioOpera please?
Winnipeg may not be the first place you think when you think “surf-rock” but thank god the province that freezes over in the winter has this band to keep them warm.
Top Tracks: “Surprise”; “Super Cool Girlfriend”; “I Had a Dream”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)