Summer 2013 hasn’t been so kind to me. Like plenty of other row home dwellers in Philadelphia, I’ve been braving four months of humidity with no air conditioning and even less patience. In the middle of this sweaty haze, I find myself looking forward to the days in October when I can button up a jacket and realize that summer is a rapidly fading memory. Thankfully, Family Vacation has written the perfect album to ease us gently into the next season. Trails, the group’s first full-length, picks us up somewhere at the end of this humid, blistering summer and asks us to step into a fall that promises something much more comfortable.
It’s obvious that Family Vacation knows their strengths. Their sound rides heavily on the 2000’s surf rock wave (taking more than a few cues from genre champions Wavves), but it never sounds derivative. The songs are charming and fresh, and Cody Bluett is all you could ask for in the role of quirky frontman. He delivers his lyrics with the perfect amount of sincerity and aloofness – on the title track, he almost seems to be out of touch with his nostalgia, as if getting too close to the words would physically hurt.
Album opener “Dew” sounds as wet as the title – like much of the album, it’s drenched in a thick curtain of reverb. The arpeggiated guitar break of “Sunrise Surf Club” is a lofty dream that takes its time descending into a dirty half-time swirl of guitars and winding vocal lines. Even at their most energetic (see lead single “Goosebumps”, “Monsters”), the music doesn’t just move; it floats. Producer Justin Nazario molds his tones with a perfect amount of precision, making sure that every instrument in the mix congeals in a gooey, fluid way.
Trails is a long listen: at 13 tracks and 54 minutes long, it demands more than a little commitment from the listener. And if these songs start to bleed together somewhere towards the end of the record, that’s just fine. When the mosquito bites start to fade and you can finally start wearing long pants again, this is the album you’ll want to keep you company.
Must-listens: “Monsters”, “Dew”, “Trails”, “Plastic Chandelier”