I'm hard-pressed to think of a current surf band that's as straight-up delightful as Les Agamemnonz. Their image is outwardly ridiculous, robed in colored tunics and barefoot, coupled with some of the most inventive stage antics and a simply joyful attitude when playing.
To be a goofball is not necessarily to be an idiot. Balancing this out are their strikingly thoughtful recordings. Amateurs in particular feels equal parts big and small, ambitious but humble, and I think they're even recognizing this with their album art, gigantic redwoods dwarving the band.
When I first heard this album I was going for a jog and didn't realize that my media player was playing them in alphabetical order rather than the correct one (perhaps forever wrecking the what seems like an intentionally curated experience), and I mention this because I actually really like "Air Force" setting the tone. It's a busy, focused song, but also surprisingly quiet and fun (with muffled yelps throughout). When it gets up to speed you're going faster that you realize, but it never quite escapes to overwhelming territory.
Fans that checked in on their "Diana" single were treated to one of their best songs ever. They cleverly switched the Roman goddess Diana to her Greek equivalent Artemis on this album, and gave it a big dose of Joe Meek magic via clavioline, as well as quick-strummed acoustic guitar providing momentum. I'm glad that song found its way onto this album, and it's especially fun hearing it wearing a different set of clothes.
"Mount Capitola" was the leading single from this record, and it's definitely a showcase, about as loud as they get, with not only fuzz guitar but string accompaniment. It's as outwardly dramatic as it gets on this record. The other mountain track is "Mount Harissa", much more experimental and with a surprising amount of piano, while still cresting into a exciting peaks. These are the showpieces of the album, and certainly highlights but not necessarily the out-and-out best.
For instance, I like them when they're small too. Xiphias, with a "Penetration"-styled bass serving as the nervous heartbeat, though with a frantic energy rather than a menacing one. One of my favorite tracks is "Attention", a timid boiler that bursts into Joe Meek anthem, made especially special with strange ethereal moan.
There are many more surprises and quirks left to mention on this record, but I think that's best explored by you. It's a delightful collection that, to use another set of opposites, is both loose and free while being tightly crafted and meticulous. This band continues to be one of the most special groups to emerge from this genre.
I've only heard the digital version, but I've also seen some praise for the look and feel of the vinyl. Grab either from Hi-Tide.