Saturday, 14 March 2009
Sometimes you know what a record will sound like before you even hear it, and from the very first bars of opener “Wilderness” the multinational multi-instrumentalists that make up the lineup of Sunny Day Sets Fire don't disappoint. They trade in a euphoric rush of upbeat, psychedelic pop which should see them feature heavily on many a summer themed mixtape this year.
Obvious reference points are Apples in Stereo or The Flaming Lips, but frontman Mauro Remiddi's vocals evoke the same wide eyed innocence of Syd Barrett which coupled with a slew of Beatles-esque chord structures and Beach Boy harmonies combine to construct a pervasive evocation of late 60s psychedelia which is nicely measured without becoming revivalist.
Much of Summer Palace is awash with romantic, wistful melodies but where it works best and is at its strongest is the brooding melancholia of “Mandarins”, the surf rock twang of “End of the Road” or the whimsy of “Wilderness”. “Adrenaline” and “Brainless” aim for instant gratification, but both result in a cloying pastiche of The Magic Numbers.
Unfortunately the album as a whole is too one paced, with only the reverb soaked “Siamese” stripping back the songs to reveal that there is more beyond the layered guitars, keyboards, glockenspiel and vocal harmonies that envelop and threaten to consume each song. Their over-ambition means the majority of songs end with spiralling codas, which eventually becomes a self-effacing affair when every song on the album possesses one.
There are a plethora of acts currently attempting to reinvest pop music with a sense of worth and relevance, but this release lacks the cohesion and hooks of a classic pop album. Summer Palace has its strengths and merits, but after nigh on one hours listening time of such resolutely chipper music it is an album that leaves you desperately searching for the shade.
This article was originally produced for http://www.themusicmagazine.co.uk/. If you would like to read the music review of Summer Palace by Sunny Day Sets Fire on the site then please click on the article title.