(Broken Circles, 2014)
Triathalon has got a good thing going, guys. If I were to sum up my initial experience with the Savannah, Georgia–based rock quartet in a single word, I think I would use the word “unexpected.” After quick perusal of their Facebook page and a glance at the tracklist on their new album, I thought I had them pretty well figured. Ok, a bunch of blurry candid shots of dudes with solo cups standing around pools… A tracklist full of titles like “Low Tide,” “Hawaiian Boi” and “Surfing…” These guys are clearly going for the good-times Pavement vibe of poorly recorded guitar and thrown-together scraps of music, probably with at least one song that ends in a bunch of people laughing into the microphone. It’s way too easy for me to dismiss these things with a knowing roll of the eye and give a speculative listen to the first track or two before moving on…
And you know what? I was right! Well, in a way.
There’s no denying that Triathalon is after that elusive Pavement vibe, at least in part. However, there was something else I noticed almost from the get-go.
The opening track, “High Tide,” is an instrumental number. My initial reaction—and this might be because the title made me think of David Gilmour’s “On an Island,” or it might be because I’ve had that whole “Pink Floyd is coming out with a new album but it’s not really Pink Floyd” nonsense floating around in my head so much—immediately was, “Hey, this sounds like a Pink Floyd intro!” I listened further, and the transition between track 1 and track 2 was even more Floyd-ian! And let me tell you something, there is no better hook in the world for me than sounding kind of like Pink Floyd.
Of course, once the actual song began, it went in a very different, much more chill direction than, say, “Animals.” But the intro accomplished something very important: it established that Triathlon is serious about music, right from the get-go. They played a genuinely enjoyable 60 seconds of music without the aid of vocals, and then launched into their actual song.
And they didn’t stop there! (Sorry for sounding like an OxiClean commercial…) There’s a surprising amount of versatility on this album. Sure, “Brain Dead” is a classic scrap of surf-rock flotsam, but “Get Back?” That’s a punk hit straight out of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim movie right there. And “Downtown” is just, an old-fashioned rock ballad, like, out of nowhere!
There are some albums that I review and then don’t touch again for months or years at a time. I can already safely say that Lo-Tide is not one of those albums. There’s a ton of worthwhile stuff in there, and it comes with a very strong recommendation. Give it a listen next time you’re up for a relaxing afternoon off from work. Or school. Or whatever the kids are doing these days.
[Editor’s note: Any band from Savannah, Georgia, is OK by me! Love that town.]
RIYL: Ducktails, Pavement, Teen Daze’s Beach Dreams, Wavves