Knoxville, TNs erudite Coolrunnings have been floating around the blogosphere for a good while, even in their humble beginnings after the release of their first two online EP’s – Buffalo and Babes Forever – they were sparking interest and acclaim in Pitchfork and Impose Magazine to name a few. Formed through the mutual musical cooperation of Brandon Biondo (ex Royal Bangs) and Forrest Ferguson, the band became a four-piece ensemble in 2010 in preparation for live performances and for the eventual writing and recording of their debut LP.

Alongside their slightly obscure gorilla baby child album cover (courtesy of Thee Ruiner), and their somewhat controversial song title choices [need I mention ‘Behold The Cunt’], Coolrunnings really do appear to do something pretty unique, combining vocals influenced by sixties surf-rock and psychedelia fused with an electronic new-wave sound that is entirely contemporary. The record is utterly timeless, evoking time travel between a heady kaleidoscope of the era of free love and drugs and the contemporary electronic computer wizardry which dominates ambient new wave.

EP’s Babes Forever and Buffalo gave a small taster of what Coolrunnings were about, and if ‘When I Got High With You’ and ‘Better Things’ sent you in a dizzying spin of hedonistic music loving, Dracula Is Only The Beginning will not render you stationary. The LP opens with ‘Chorus’, and what a belter of a beginning it is. Sampling Ethiopian jazz star Alemayehu Eshete’s hit ‘Ayalqem Tendengo’ as the foundation for a shuffling Tropicana jaunt; the track is a prime example for their flair of genre blurring. It is actually my favourite track on the album, and one I fell in love with in early 2011, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and jumps and prances with a bouncing surf rock vibe. ‘Behold The Cunt’ is hated by mothers and grandmothers alike, but the choice of title was a political statement from Brandon "we kinda wrestled on whether or not we were actually going to use the word cunt in the title of the song but ultimately decided 'Why the fuck would we censor ourselves?'."

‘Thunderbirds’ could have been taken from a Joy Division album, exploring melancholy and "trust issues," a clear running thematic concentration. ‘I Can Be Dreamy’ lays its foundations with a floor tom, a snare and a guitar. With a slightly robotic feel, the sound is absent of bass, instead a pounding synthbass resonates throughout. Designed to impress a love interest, the song in fact, "creeped her out to no end...I went to a party she invited me to and when I was introduced, everybody was like “Oh, you’re the guy that wrote the song." ‘Jesse’ embodies the careless spirit of the band and the album perfectly, bumbling along with a sound that sounds natural and relaxed and not produced or tweaked to within an inch of its life. The DIY lo-fi element really works here, but the lyrics fumble in producing any coherent meaning whatsoever, which is somewhat disappointing.

Title track, ‘Dracula Is Only The Beginning’, contains a somewhat strange drum beat, which surprisingly manages to work pretty well; multiple drum layering creates a rhythm which is pretty unique in its formation. ‘C.K.S.F.A.R’ is, as the band themselves label it, an obvious Gary Glitter rip off, "probably the most perverted song on the album" and stomps through glam rock evocations. It’s pulsing pace makes it a song that would fit right into any great road trip playlist. ‘Megalomania’ a live recording with overdubbed guitars, evokes eighties stiff suits, quiffs and synth boards. ‘Burnout’ holds a sense of frantic urgency, with an unrelenting guitar rhythm and a clear frustrated anger, especially evident when you hear it was written about a not so nostalgic ex relationship, "I wrote this song in 2008 or 2009 when my girlfriend started cheating on me/ruining my life." Final track ‘Fort Kid’ closes the LP with a more contemplative exploration of the album’s sound, perfectly closing the frantic rhythms and generic influences which a more subtle sound.

One of my concerns when listening is that it all seems a little flat. While the record sounds great musically in its entirety, I can’t help but be pulled back from full enjoyment by my numbing feeling that the record’s meaning is all a bit empty. Lyrically each track is uninventive and instead presents a level of frantic ineloquence where the actual use of the fuzzy vocal channel which we all assume to account for a 60’s surf-rock influence is in fact a way to hide the band’s lacking musical imagination. Words seem to be used for rhythms sake and not for profound meaning. In an interview on The 405 where the band was asked to talk through the album, Brandon admitted that the lyrics on Jesse, "don’t make any fucking sense."

Despite my qualms about the album’s lacking lyrical poetry, Coolrunnings produce a fantastic debut album, and in my opinion will be highly well received by pre-existing and new listeners. Dracula Is Only The Beginning resembles a magpie’s nest shining with a multitude of little genre trinkets, soaring through shoe gaze, psychedelic surf rock with a dash of ambient synth and samples of tropical African majesty and is surely one to buy.