A horrible hack

By Surprise

Four On Seven in Eight

Year Released: 2008
Format: CD
Label: self released
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Apr 20, 2009
I must admit that initially I was a touch underwhelmed with By Surprise. It took me some time to warm to them, but once the heating had been on a while, I was getting on famously. Their opening song on this four song salvo has a beaut of an intro... one guitar then two just melt together in mighty fine fashion, and then the singer comes in yelping like he fancies a bit of Lovesick, and who could blame him. Then it all gets tied up in a mish-mash of swaying guitar that comes off a bit like when Braid were still finding their feet on Frankie Welfare Boy, an LP that never clicked with me.

I like the fact that the songs each get longer than the one before, the band really needs the extra minutes to allow their songs to breath, a couple of the songs are way too short at 90 seconds. "I Liked You Better" in particular needs more room, but the Fred Thomasian vocals on this one are really floating my boat big time. Then it ends. Damn you! Intro guitar squeal off "Terra Cotta Army" is sorta similar to that from Christie Front Drive's "Long Out" and it precedes an initially scattergun song, the eventual highlight of which is the gorgeous, gentle second half that bounces off into the sunset, under handclaps and a lovely little bit of high pitched guitar buried in there that really brings to mind the Bells on Trike 10", which makes me think these boys need to get the emo waltz on at some point. Things finish up with "Circuit Breaker" which starts out calm before turning up the volume and getting the patented "sway back and forth on your heels whilst playing guitar in rhythm" thing going.

By Surprise take up the legacy of the late 90s midwestmo genre, bands such as the Promise Ring and the Get Up Kids, and drag the whole thing kicking and screaming into 2009. There is work to be done here for sure, things haven't fully clicked but there is plenty of promise By Surprise are going to be many people's darlings, and I am eager to hear where things are headed. Next up is a split 7" with Hightide Hotel.

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