Despite a reliance on familiar, guitar-driven tunes, Surfer Blood's latest has no interest in embracing traditional rock'n'roll swagger. Blame (or thank) John Paul Pitts, whose pitch-vaulting voice always sounds a touch more melancholic than he perhaps intends. Compared to the band's almost shoegazing 2009 debut, this follow-up EP lacks the level-busting reverb that once triggered Dinosaur Jr. comparisons. Instead, the Florida band is now content to catch Pixies-ish waves of gentler mutilation and ride them ?to college-rock bliss. "Drinking Problem" ?provides the lone exception; its sturdy, submerged bass line pushes the guitars back into ear-bleed ?territory.
Laid-back, atmospheric 2009 tracks like "Deadbeat Summer" and "Terminally Chill" established Neon Indian's Alan Palomo as a chillwave founding father. But Palomo's un-self-conscious messiness also made him an easy target. Era Extraña picks up as if that criticism (and 2010) never happened. Some tracks sound 25 years old and they're one Martin Rushent assist away from being genuine synth-pop hits; others resemble M83 in even softer focus, with ethereal vocals lodged ?behind a glitchy wall of sound that turns the line ?"I could be a shadow" from frilly metaphor to incontrovertible fact.