Interest Not Waning
The Tijuana Panthers’ new album Wayne Interest, with its blisteringly brilliant homage to early- to mid-’60s garage rock and surf rock, lives in that world of constant beachfront bonfires capped off with an after-party at some dude’s neon-lit ranch house a mile’s walk away. It’s either a bunch of teenagers at this thing — or simply a bunch of adults playing “teen” for just one last night before they return to the grind of caring for kids and pretending as if the American Dream were still a going concern.
Either way, the songs build on last year’s Semi-Sweet, bringing forward the same great vibe but with a bit more polish and tenacity. The songs are tighter and craftier, and the guitar parts toss out the notes in a more intricate way. It all coalesces around some beautiful combination of The Black Lips, surf-guitarist legend Dick Dale and Peter Bjorn and John.
Upbeat numbers like “Time” and “Four Horsemen” are fast-paced and raucous with catchy choruses. “Time” embodies the album’s dungeon-like reverb onslaught while “Horsemen,” the album’s opener, offers up the kind of intricate guitar work one can expect from the California band.
“NOBO” is one of the songs that puts the brakes on the high-energy attack that runs through most of the album. It’s the kind of haunting, tremolo-heavy surf rock that graced the ’60s with a spacey quality that Echo & The Bunnymen later mined with great reward. The chorus, with its questions like “Where’d you get your money?” offers a question that likely comes up a lot in Orange County. Even that party on the beach — with tendencies toward democratizing the attendees — is bound to end up in cliques related to the haves and have-nots.
The title track comes into play toward the end of the record. It opens with studio banter, which leads to dark chimes of airy guitars, humble lyrical admissions and splashy percussion over a beat danceable to any of your average characters in a David Lynch film. Tijuana Panthers are part of the wave that revives all of this wonderfully paradoxical surf music from the pre-Vietnam era. Music students will note it has a lot of minor chords — the sad, ominous ones — over often happy beats and witty vocals. It makes people dance and features some great guitar solos, but it also easily dabbles in the un-nerving, the questionable and the devious. Whatever Wayne’s interest is, it’s worth finding out.