Throw punk, metal and pop music into a blender, and the result will probably sound something like the Murdocks’ debut album, Surrenderender.
The first track, "Saddest Star," starts with a pop-ish style that makes you instantly like the song. Just as it gets to the point where listeners could start singing along, lead singer Franklin Morris starts screaming. The screaming ruins the fun vibe.
The second track, "Horsegore," is worse than the first. Screaming permeates the song. The chorus would be worthwhile if it could be understood through the sreaming.
"Dance The Vomit Snakes" might be the third track on the album, but it is the first track that can be enjoyed in its entirety. It incorporates just the right amount of guitar, which is enhanced by the lyrics and Morris’ voice. After listening to the first two tracks, this song seems out of place. That is, until you reach the other tracks, and then the idea sinks in that this album is a mix of punk and pop. When the album is viewed in this light, nothing is a surprise.
The rest of the tracks drift between bouts of screaming and a sing-a-long, laid-back pop style. This makes the rest of Surrenderender fun to listen to, because just at the point that the pop-ish style creates a nice groove, here comes a short bout of screaming to shake you. These screaming spells are a way to convey the passionate nature of the Murdocks.
"Da Da" also incorporates screaming that builds to a climax. The screaming here is unnecessary, and provides a disappointing end to an otherwise easy-to-listen-to song. This lack of an ending leaves the listener wanting more, and proves to be a letdown.
To help get over the disappointment at the end of "Da Da," there is "Easter Moon," the best track on Surrenderender. The sound of an acoustic guitar encompasses the song, fitting perfectly with the story-like tone of the track.
When comparing "Easter Moon" with "Horsegore," one might picture the former as a calm ocean, and the latter as a stormy sea. The only elements these two songs share are awesome lyrics and exceptional guitar playing.
With such a mix of musical styles, it is nice to see some constant elements, the strongest of which is Morris’ voice. Whether he is annoyingly screaming or providing a nice pop-ish style, his voice is amazing. His many variations make the screaming parts bearable and propel the album to more than just likable. Another constant element is the lyrics, which are creative and thought-provoking with room left to still be fun.
Surrenderender, as a whole, is an incredible first attempt by the Murdocks.