Pointbreak - Ming Dynamite

Pointbreak - Ming Dynamite

Pointbreak didn't come out of nowhere, though I have to admit that I'm scratching my head trying to think of other Irish surf groups. But what I mean is they've had about 13 songs spread between 3 EPs since 2017 (with impeccable graphic design I might add!), before dropping this 11-song LP on us. Ming Dynamite is a record that feels like the band has taken their time to find their sound, and they're ready to present it, even if they're not sure you're ready.

The album starts out with a guitar intro that is effectively a disclaimer that they're a surf band, and indeed "Tiger Hour" is probably as traditional surf as they'll get, with some surfbeat drums and overblown sax. Guitar doesn't demonstrate the Astronauts-aspring surfybear sound that may mark many modern-traditional surf groups, but it actually sounds convincingly 60's appropriate.

OK, surf cred established, exhale. Let's see if the listener can handle jazzy guitar backing up some smooth sax with "Wall's Boutique" (is this a Beastie Boys reference?). Too much? OK, deploy "You Ain't Now Cowboy" to reel the surfers back in, with uptempo guitar and saxophone aggressively trying to dig a hole the sand with twistin' beach partiers

OK let's just stop. They can do surf, they may not always want to surf. Be free. Be what you wanna be. Ready?

Ming Dynamite is a track worthy of the album title. You start off with a dangerous crime-jazzy guitar riff, with stakes raised as the brass joins in. But then the guitar steps aside for a saxophone riff reminiscent of Jr. Walker's funky attitude. These two sides come together, switch off, spar, and eventually solve the case together like a buddy cop drama. It feels both dramatic, but also very performed, like you can see the band playing it as you listen. It gives them space to flex their chops, but never loses sight of the song itself.

And it feels like the door is wide open for the rest of the record. "The Dripping Forecast" and "Titans" hit you with some flute (which was also featured on their last EP). Vocoder on "Four Can Frogman". A cover of "Jack the Ripper" with noisy electronics, though notably still a fairly faithful cover. A jazzy, swung beat on "Jack's Bad". In general saxophone never fully surrendering to a supporting role, and refusing to stick entirely to rock & roll limitations. It's not that they're trying to escape surf or do something experimental, it doesn't feel like they're trying to make a statement. It just feels like they're doing surf on their own terms, and the result is a surf record, I mean that, that manages to be interesting without forgetting to be fun.

You can grab CD, vinyl and digital on their bandcamp.


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