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Big Wave Riders

Life Less Ordinary

[Soliti; 2012]

By ; September 27, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Since the dawn of this century, the Nordic countries have enjoyed a healthy dose of admiration for their indie music scene, yet the spotlight rarely shined on Finland. Well, that may soon change. The most sparsely populated country in the European Union finally has a hope for an international indie rock breakthrough, and they are called Big Wave Riders. Unlike the bulk of Scandinavian music that seem to mull over the introspectiveness, the Helsinki-based quintet celebrates life, with all its ups, downs, and idiosyncrasies, with little time for rumination.

Last September, Big Wave Riders released a seven-track EP in a flavor analogous to surf rock, oscillating somewhere between Florida’s Surfer Blood and New Zealand’s Surf City. With the release of their debut LP this August, Life Less Ordinary, the Finnish lads make the genre labeling less transparent. The ten-song course dishes up everything from dream pop to garage and everything in between with plenty of garnish.

Life Less Ordinary is far from being conceptual, nor does it even unfold in a “standardized” album format (But then is there a such thing as “standardized” these days? Perhaps more appropriate would be comparing to the most common structure.) Opener “Waiting In The Wings” is more like a primo piatto than an aperitivo. There is no slow building up of layers — a seemingly popular route with the first track; all the instruments are plated in a stew of concordant melodies, set to a buoyant beat. Emulating the surf rock sensibility of the self-titled EP, “Waiting In The Wings” serves more as an antipasto between the two studio recordings. As an increasing number of listeners forgoes the full course of albums, BWR are well adapting to the age of singles. Yet the next two tracks fall short of keeping up the single-worthiness.

The psychedelic, garage-y “Stuck In Reverse” feels counter-intuitive following the Britpop eloquence of “Waiting In The Wings.” As if to compensate the simplified structure, the orchestral keyboard and an ensemble of vox during the chorus proves to be one too many seasonings. The heavy bass lines marinating the hard rock guitar riffs, topped with tryptophan-induced narcoleptic vocals, “California” gives a new flavor to the stereotypical image of the golden state. These two more downbeat numbers could have better served the album if they were distanced apart from each other to keep the listener from drowning in the haze of aperitivos while waiting for the main course.

The meat of Life Less Ordinary is found in the next three tracks. “Life Is Art, You Wonder” picks back the momentum started by “Waiting In The Wings” with a dance club energy of Happy Mondays dished up with a healthy slab of shoegaze ferociousness of Ride’s Nowhere era. The fervent drumming and guitar assault is later amplified in “Acid.” Fit for piatto principale, current single “Sunny Season,” finds Teppo cooling his vocal chords for a more mellifluous delivery, tossed with sweeping keyboard harking back to Disintegration-era Cure. “Science Fiction” recalls Blur’s carefree pop before escalating into an anthemic rock territory.

Coetaneous “Castle In The Air” and “Disco Lies” continue the interplay of catchy pop with inciting rock spiced with kraut and punk. Having just savored their il dolce, the sugar-high musicians metabolize their ten courses into a cacophonous night cap on “Move On.” Through all the genre change ups and downs, one thing seems to be clear: BWR is impatient for the future. Perhaps one day, they’ll realize taking some time to savor their concoctions may make some fine vintage.

Though Big Wave Riders have been together just little over two years, this could be a lasting project among old friends with plenty of fruits to bear. Sometimes when a band debuts with a “classic,” they fall victim to never achieving the same heights (i.e. The Stone Roses) while other bands hint at their subsequent illustriousness (i.e. Radiohead). And the future for BWR looks pretty sunny as they churn out songs of diapason, digestible any time of the day.


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