EP: Subak – Life of Your Dreams

404 may be a common website error code, but in the context of Life of Your Dreams, the fantastic new EP from Berkeley, California group Subak, it is anything but a mistake. The track begins underwater, and then emerges to a surf of jangly, jingly guitars that shimmer like the sun reflecting off a calm bay. A meandering bassline and interweaving layers of vocal harmonies set the stage for an impressive guitar/chime solo. The song is a mini-opera of surf pop genius.

Making surfing references to a band from California runs the risk of seeming old hat, but hearing the sunny bedroom pop of tracks like “Staring At” makes no other imaging more apt. The song’s dangerously catchy sing-a-long falsetto and mirroring guitar part are the sort of pop music gold that you can only hope to create after a lot of time and effort in pop songcraft.

The EP excels because it is at the same time very sonically consistent and also has an interesting mix of sounds that set each song apart. Take for instance the funky jam of “Know More. Sliding acoustic chords (ukulele?), booty-shaking bass notes, and cascades of twinkly piano leads set the scene of swaying along at a friend’s backyard BBQ with tiki torches and coconut drinks. The party ends as we all jump into the pool and are once again submerged underwater.

After this wet and wild fun, it is time to dry off and “Sit Still” as we watch the summer sunset and enjoy the album’s most tranquil moment. A classic and endearing chord progression sets up the gritty and sitar-like guitar solo that highlights the middle of this dreamy track. Brief spoken interlude “Wash Sq” leads us to the album’s closer “Empty Chairs”. A dark, yet friendly guitar chords and lovely ooo’s and ah’s are accented by cheeky bass harmony notes that would be at home on a record from a 1950’s pop group that wears matching tuxes.

A beautiful end to a lovely set of tranquil pop songs. Like a summer vacation without leaving your bedroom, Life of Your Dreams is 15 minutes of pure surfy, dream pop that’s catchy and energetic, but not so much that you’ll spill your coconut drink with tiny umbrella. Subak’s newest is now available digitally from the stellar purveyors of all things indie and bedroom pop, BIRTHDIY.

Written by John Brouk