West coast USA – glorious beaches curve into the distance, palm trees sway slightly in the breeze as blue skies spread far and wide. Not a cloud in sight. The beautiful people are gathered, the bleached blonde hair bouncing like a beach ball, partying like it’s 1969. Surfs Up Dude. Out of this world and into this world Sandy’s were born, from the mind of Alixi Glickman and surf film maker Thomas Campbell, collaborating on soundtracks together and eventually signing to Um Yeah Arts. By 2018 they were a fully fledged band and recorded their album Chime at Alixi’s beach hut. Linking up with engineer David Glasebrook they have come up with this album, which they regard as their magnum opus.
They liken their sound to the Beach Boys filtered through the Polyvinyl back catalogue. I wouldn’t really know about that but the first frames of reference I hear are BC Camplight and Tame Impala. It’s definitely laid back and has a sun baked sumptiousness , almost a Dave Fridmann production to it. First track “Dimension IV” has the rolling drums and spacey backing vocals and analogue keys, not to mention a reverb that sounds like little fluffy clouds reflected in your John Lennon glasses. The summer malaise continues apace on “Sami & Sandy” with its lazy 10cc vibes, replete with an excellent tremolo guitar solo which stretches like a sunny beach into a hazy shimmer. It’s a little like floating on a sea of honey.
“Standing On The Water” drifts around your head like gently lapping waves painting ultra realist technicolour washes of blue and fuzzy gold whilst you float lazily on your lilo, while “Sunken Cathedral”, with its bass line straying far into Flaming Lips territory and keyboard lines straight from the aforementioned BC Camplight, but manages to capture a whole underwater scene of movement and colour, like travelling through a Jacques Cousteau movie.
“Ghost Lake” is a guitar instrumental which sounds like it was lifted wholesale from an 80’s Peter Frampton album, with hints of his trademark Les Paul sound peppering a laid back Rhodes driven backing, and the extremely short “Moss Landing” which follows sounds like the BBC radiophonic workshop attempting a theme tune to a science programme. “Collapsing Star” has the slow chugging feel of a 90’s indie band and it goes all epic at the end too with the strings and the big fuzzy mess of guitar… probably would have been a hit in ’97. “Calabi Yau” has the backwards-ness of a Beatles White Album experimental piece sandwiched somewhere on side 3, and that brings us to the final track Magic Mind, and the longest (as it should be), and it seems we’re back to a collaboration between 10cc and Flaming Lips, which has some lovely keyboard touches in places but otherwise a fairly straight strummed number until half way through when from the lull comes a glorious guitar solo which builds and builds from a dreamy twang and breaking gloriously like a wave into a big crashing, rising chord sequence that you never want to end, that you wish would rise forever and ever into the heavens and never return… shame it doesn’t.
I wish this album were longer. I wish it were more expansive. I wish it would get bigger and burst pure energy into my mind. It falls short of being a magnum opus but I have high hopes for the next wave.
Review by Andrew Wood