Campy and cute, D.C.'s Insect Surfers always projected the naive enthusiasm of a permanent teenhood rooted in the escapist joys of '60s surf and garage styles: They were instantly enjoyable or dismissable depending on one's tolerance for a well-intentioned party band. Thankfully, their second album, "Sonar Safari," shows them deepening the mood and textures of their contagious electropop without sacrificing their dance-floor drive or stylistic obsessions.
The best songs here are two originals, "Sound of the Surf" and "Barricade Beach." Both are seamless fusions of surf and more modern electronic styles led by Tom Tomlinson's whining Farfisa organ and eerie synthesizer lines. While the Surfers have always been upbeat, these songs are evocative, too, with the vocals adding a brooding tone, like a worrisome undertow in their otherwise safe musical tides.
Two original instrumentals also show this band's increasing sophistication in synthesizing past and present. "Blue Line" and "29" are enjoyably weird, mixing Dave Arnson's Turkish surf guitar with psychedelic keyboards straight out of Country Joe and the Fish. The Surfers are still seeking a good time, but now they seem ready to admit that in 1983 a good time should be a little strange and scary. INSECT SURFERS -- "Sonar Safari" (WASP EP5). Appearing Friday at 9 and 11 at the 9:30 Club.