Though it is a coastal town, Savannah, GA, with all its antebellum charm and cobblestoned roads, is certainly not your average breeding ground for surf pop. But in the context of this witchy city, Triathalon’s music makes perfect sense; sun and surf are combined with blues and soul, and a healthy dose of trippy jams round out the sound. The cover art for the Georgian’s sophomore release, Nothing Bothers Me, depicts the record’s contents rather accurately: bright, watery blue is undercut by a shadowy dark, like a close-up of a deep, murky sea.
At first listen, Triathalon’s music sounds like those glistening crests of placid ocean waves, reminiscent of acts like Real Estate or Mac Demarco. Watery guitars shimmer over easy, upbeat melodies in tracks like “Ways” and “Nothing Bothers Me,” but those quickly prove themselves to be more or less outliers. The opening song “Mellow Moves” and the album’s first single “Slip’n” give a better representation of what Triathalon are capable of, with both of them hovering around the seven-minute mark and featuring slow, simmering moments interspersed between twitchy, wobbly jams. “Slip’n” in particular features the kind of sinister touches that gives the band’s music an intriguing edge, like the inhuman, harmonizing vocals in the intro that bring a creepy lullaby to mind, and a darkly-tinged chord progression throughout.
Mid-album highlight “Chill Out” is a strong showing of how well Triathalon balance these tonal elements. A pronounced, ominous bass line is juxtaposed against singer Adam Intrator’s breathy falsetto, while a discordant guitar languidly jangles along. “I’ve been dreaming of you,” sings Intrator, but it’s difficult to discern whether these dreams constitute fantasy or nightmare. And in fact, the entire narrative of the album follows a protagonist who goes from being captivated to practically being held captive. Early on in the track list, we get the lovesick ballad “It’s You,” in which Intrator confesses that “Now it’s getting hard to be alone without my babe / So help me out, I’m dying here, I need your embrace.” By the time we reach “Slip’n,” we hear him practically fleeing from the former object of his affection, desperately singing “She’s in my head, she knows / It’s seeping in, I’m broke.”
Even their instrumental numbers point to a shift in the mood as the record plays. The second track “Fantasy Jam” gives us an inviting guitar riff where notes scale upwards and hit sparkly peaks, where further down the road we get “Step Into the Dark,” with it’s ever so slightly menacing turns in melody.
Happily, the last two songs on the album provide some sleepy respite, with Intrator even singing “Feeling better now / I forgot what I was sad about.” It’s a strange and sudden turn-around, which aids in the album’s overall Twilight Zone-y effect. In an indie landscape that’s rather saturated with surfy sounds, the quietly subversive quality of this record feels clever and well done. All told, Nothing Bothers Me wouldn’t be entirely out of place on a beach trip, but don’t be surprised if a few bad omens turn up along the way.