Surf Curse almost named their new album “Milky Magic.” During the recording sessions at NYC’s Electric Lady Studios for the rock group’s fourth album Magic Hour (out Friday, October 7th), frontman and drummer Nick Rattigan walked by a wall of graffiti with the words “magic trick” written on them, and suggested the phrase to his bandmates as a potential album title.
“Everyone was like… ‘ehhhhhh,'” Rattigan tells Consequence, before explaining that “magic trick” became “milky magic,” a guidepost for how they wanted the record to sound.
“There’s a smoothness to it, a coolness to it. It’s silky,” adds founding guitarist Jacob Rubeck, with fellow guitarist Noah Kohll confessing that he “had this whole thing where I was trying to get the producer, Chris Coady, to say ‘milky,’ in terms of how things sound, at least twice a day.”
That cohesive, smooth sound and spirit is what characterizes the best songs of Magic Hour, Surf Curse’s first album as a quartet, with Kohll and bassist Henry Dillon joining the lineup.
Though Surf Curse’s last album, 2019’s dazzling Heaven Surrounds You, was the band at their most hi-fi, they’ve certainly upped the ante with Magic Hour, which is also their first album for Atlantic Records. The expanded lineup and Electric Lady sessions arrive on the heels of Surf Curse’s sleeper hit, “Freaks,” a cut from their 2013 debut that received newfound success on TikTok last year. But fans of the DIY spirit of “Freaks” will certainly enjoy Magic Hour‘s vibrant energy, especially tracks like lead singles “Sugar” and “TVI.”
Though Surf Curse have never lost the intense post-punk that can both sedate you and jolt you awake, there’s a newfound tenderness — a “milkiness,” according to the band — that characterizes Magic Hour. “Love is tender,” says Rattigan, “And I feel like we can say that we love each other.”
The camaraderie between the band’s members is palpable and endearing, and they seem to be on each other’s wavelengths on and off stage; that being said, the band took the main stage at Coachella this year dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz, which was undoubtedly a fun choice… except that it was around 96 degrees in the blazing desert sun, and Rattigan’s lion costume looked like it was going to give him a heat stroke behind the drum kit. “Two or three songs in I was like, ‘This was a huge mistake,'” says Rattigan, before sharing that they all took after Dillon’s choice to wear Dorothy costumes for their weekend 2 set.
Ahead of the release of Magic Hour, Consequence caught up with Surf Curse before their exuberant set while on the ground at this year’s inaugural Primavera Sound Los Angeles — a hometown festival for the band — to discuss the new album, playing festivals, and much more. Read the full Q&A below.