Ahhh, the midst of summer. Parties on the beach, blistering sun, golden skin, sea-soaked hair, catching a gnarly wave. No? More like rain in your ice cream, chubby white bellies, naff seaside arcades, endless downpours and watching TV inside instead. It’s lucky for us that Triptides, a trio from Indiana, have obviously enjoyed a lifetime of summers fitting the former description because otherwise their debut album, Psychic Summer, would be an altogether gloomier affair.
Describing themselves on their MySpace as sounding like “A fun beach party in a basement in your brain”, the album opens with the rather unassuming instrumental track ‘Drift Away’. 45 seconds later however, their single, ‘Going Under’ kicks off and Triptides unmistakeably let their intentions be known- To surf, love and live in a perpetual state of sunshine. It has really beautiful, lilting guitars, perfect melodies and 60s style harmonies and clocking in at 1 minute 49 seconds, it’s over in a flash, but that just means you want to play it over again. It sounds like a soundtrack for a day at the beach, but this is not a downpour in Bognor, digging pointless holes in the sand, it’s a luau in Miami.
The album continues much in the same vein throughout. The whole thing is like an extension of ‘In My Room’ by The Beach Boys; the feeling of being 14 years old set to a musical score – Employing a sense of youthful curiosity, boredom and loneliness coupled with childish exuberance and carefree urges that Brian Wilson practically trademarked.
While I write this in August, there are looming clouds outside and a whole shitstorm whirling around a riotous and violent Britain so in the scheme of things, it seems a little indulgent to be listening to this unashamedly chipper album in all its gorgeousness. Nevertheless, if there’s nothing left to do but concentrate on the lighter side of life, this album will deliver that. It is pure, lush escapism. If there was a scratch & sniff album cover, it’d smell like seashells and forgotten love.
The upbeat, doe-eyed optimism sometimes gives way to a slower pace and a stripped back honesty and while the album starts off playful, it winds down towards the end and becomes reflective, perhaps echoing the growth from youth to maturity or day to night. None of these tracks are throwaway, despite their hasty pace, but none of them feel particularly fleshed out either. They are almost like postcards of songs – snippets of a bigger picture that occasionally slip out of focus.
Triptides have a keen ability to carve out wonderful, stirring odes to memories that were probably never there but that you wish had been; to nostalgia that you never really owned. They might sing of a summer of surfing and lost love while your youth might have been spent in a rainy caravan, practising clumsy kisses with lolling, innocent tongues, but there are dreams and desires that everyone could relate to here, helping to make the album such a delight. A wonderful debut.