A Sunny Concoction
When it came time to record the Orange Peels’ fifth album, Sun Moon, bassist and founding member Jill Pries had to take a unique approach. Because the band’s main songwriter, Allen Clapp, was off producing albums for other bands and running his new boutique record label, Mystery Lawn Music, he was too busy to really commit to writing new songs for the Orange Peels, so that led Pries to organizing practice sessions for a new album, even though Clapp hadn’t written anything for the band to record. That lit a fire under Clapp’s behind, and it also helped Sun Moon become something more of a collaborative process. That approach really worked, as Sun Moon is a breezy, jangly affair. While the band have been compared to the likes of the Byrds, the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach in the past, Sun Moon has the same pop punch of an early New Pornographers album, with a little dash of early Todd Rundgren before his songwriting went off the rails, tossed in.
In fact, there’s hardly a duff track to be found on Sun Moon. “The Words Don’t Work” has a dazzling, pop sheen compacted into an exact two minutes, while “Your New Heroes” has a riffing, mid-tempo crunch that will have you nodding your head and saying, “yeah”. The band practices its Rundgren-esque keyboard vamps on “Traveling West/Sundowns” while “Grey Holiday” is so sunny in its Californian vibe that it even nicks a little bit of the melody from the theme to Sesame Street, believe it or not. Equally as memorable is “Æther Tide”, which shows the band extending its chops to the sort of solar pop perfected by A. C. Newman. And “Watch Her Fly” has a clarion ‘70s AM gold feel to it—it sounds like something you might have heard from the era, but quite can’t put a finger on, which lends itself to feeling wholly original. All in all, Sun Moon is a superb collection of songs that will want you to head out in your muscle car on a sunny summer day with the windows down and the tunes flowing out of the stereo. The change in approach to making this album has landed the Orange Peels with a real winner, even if Clapp may have found himself travelling more in the backseat. This is clearly a band to watch and, even more so, listen to with enrapt attention.