Satanic Surfers – Fragments and Fractions – Review

Satanic Surfers

Fragments and Fractions (Bad Taste)
by Morgan Coe

A label change and a new album from one of Sweden’s skate-punk institutions. This time around, Satanic Surfers have traded their classic “melodic hardcore” metal-isms for a cleaner, thinner guitar sound: Think Fenders instead of Gibsons, or Ten Foot Pole instead of Strung Out. Definitely a good idea, because it makes them sound that much less like all the other pop-punk bands that formed after seeing NOFX in 1995, and they need all the help they can get.

Essentially, Satanic Surfers play two songs. The first one wistfully describes the sadder parts of a Satanic Surfer’s life: You miss your girlfriend while you’re on tour (“Together”), sleeping in and drinking coffee gets boring after awhile (“My Daily Routine”), and sometimes you don’t stay in touch with your friends as much as you’d like to (“Seperate Ways” [sic]). Imagine Hi-Standard’s “Dear My Friend,” but with better English and less chutzpah. The important thing about this song is that it’s completely passive: There’s clearly no chance of the singer either shutting up or taking action to change any of this penny-ante tragedy. The other song, on the other hand, is all about taking arms against a sea of troubles: “Pulling the Strings,” “Choose My Side of the Fence,” “And No One Can Deny,” etc. all come off like a less aggressive Propagandhi, with very specific and serious political lyrics.

Unfortunately, as the Surfers themselves say on “One of the Last Songs,” “we’ve all been put to sleep by this monotonous lullaby,” the overall smoothness of their singing, songwriting, playing, and production completely dilutes whatever anger they’re trying to muster. And, of course, I can’t help but wonder about a band that attacks the music industry with a line like “thanx for the invitation but we really couldn’t care less/about participating in some stupid contest” on the same record that comes with a bio sheet listing its bulleted “Selling Points.” Cynical or naïve? You make the call. Meanwhile, for Swedish rock that doesn’t pull punches or leave you wondering if they’re joking, I’d recommend Randy or Ümlaut.
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