"Headin' Inside" - Surf City
Fingertips doesn't much traffic in genres and here's a great example of why: if asked, I would not claim surf rock as a particular favorite, or garage rock, or anything that sounds lo-fi or DIY-ish. "Headin' Inside" is pretty much a blend of all three, and this--go figure--I pretty much love. So, look: it's not about the genre, people. It's about the music. If "melodic, spirited, intelligent pop" were a genre, then maybe I'd sign up as a fan.
Meantime, "Headin' Inside": this one announces "pay attention!" to me in three distinct places. First: after that itchy, half surf-rock/half jangle-rock intro keeps you engaged but on hold, wondering where it's all going, we get, at 0:26, the unforeseen entrance of some sort of flute- or pipe-like instrument playing the melodic refrain; the musical juxtaposition is brilliant in a way words cannot describe. Second: when lead singer Davin Stoddard shouts "one, two, three, four!" for the second time, at 1:04, it leads into a wordless vocal section rather than straight back into a verse; even better, the "oh-oh-ohs" here are sung at half-speed to the verse's melody, and partially syncopated off the beat as well. That's just plain great. But again, I can't really describe why. Third: the chorus, when Stoddard sings, "I'm headin' inside/Yeah I'm headin' outside for a while." Which is it? How can it be both? Am I hearing things? Answers are besides the point when a song has this much infectious momentum. Fourth: when the lyric "What's the matter now?" is repeated (1:32). No other lyrical line is repeated like that, as far as I can tell. Need I bother to add that this moment too is indescribably delightful?
Surf City is a quartet from Auckland that used to be called Kill Surf City (after a Jesus and Mary Chain song) but found that a band in the U.K. had beaten them to the name. "Headin' Inside" is the lead track from the group's self-titled debut EP, released last month on the German label, Morr Music, which is typically an electronica label (see last week's review of B. Fleischmann, below). But maybe they don't let genre get in their way, either.