The Orange Peels: 2020

Packs enough good-time power pop to last a couple of seasons.

The Orange Peels


Label: Minty Fresh
US Release Date: 2009-11-10
UK Release Date: Import
Label Website
Artist Website

2020, the fourth release by Northern California's the Orange Peels, has a lot going for it. It's a swift 36 minutes long, eight of the ten songs are power-pop sound blasts, and it’s just as perfect a soundtrack to washing your car in the afternoon sun as it is to taking an off-season stroll along the beach. The album's greatest quality of all, however, is that sonically it’s in a close enough vein that describing it as a sunnier, less ingratiating version of Girls’ 2009 release Album isn’t far off. Both bands have rooted through the same pop used parts bin, but the Orange Peels left the shoegaze tones behind. What results is a snappier album that evokes both summer and autumn, but not in the Indian summer sense.

"We're Gonna Make It", the opening track, sends the listener scrambling for spring break gear before the first chorus even unfolds. This is in spite of a few lyrics about the fall, and a few contradictory lines, such as "We argued endlessly, we were the best of friends". The constant contradictions, whether they be the summery vibes of the melodies clashing with the lyrics about red and golden leaves or the "we're a couple now we aren't" conflicts, are no more apparent than on 2020's title track. "And in my rearview crystal ball / Everything's 2020", sings vocalist and multi-tasking instrumentalist Allen Clapp, in an insinuation that he -- or whomever the song's protagonist may be -- is looking to the future and the past at the same time. Maybe Clapp is just explaining how he crafts his melodies: by lifting musical cues from the past and flinging them out into tomorrow as bursts of indie pop that come and go just like the seasons.

The most successful concoctions here appear to be the aforementioned opener and title track, as well as "Seaside Holiday", whose boppy piano line compels the listener to break out in the giddiest manner of ants-in-pants-style indie dancing. Whether the song is announcing itself on the beach or in a club where everyone is yearning for the warm weather so they can hit the beach, it's never awkward. In 2020's second half, "Jane Lane" stands out thanks to a shimmery '60's pop intro and a blissful power pop chorus. By the album's final song, the melancholy "Broken Wing", lyrics and melodies are finally in concordance. It ends with the lines "I don't know how this happened / Just really can't see tomorrow", an ironic closing to an album whose title refers to perfect vision.

For all its charms, however, 2020 offers more than a few hints of confusion. The constant references to the sea, stars, the moon, and butterflies seem to suggest a connecting thread among the songs. Is the album chronicling a failed romance through the seasons, using nature references as a clue to what month we're in? If so, the allusions needed to be stronger. If not, then what do all these references mean, exactly?

Despite these questions, 2020 has enough jaunty beats to keep fussing to a minimum. Even if jaunty beats prove powerless, at least this album's brevity won't leave a curious listener cursing over wasted time (unlike that dreadful Girls album).


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.