Pale Sunday: Summertime?

Dan Nishimoto

Summer breeze make you feel fine? Then settle back in your plastic lawnchair with a caipirinha de tangerina and the new Pale Sundays record. Oh, and the Bill Hicks trench coat mafia need not apply.

Pale Sunday


Label: Matinée
US Release Date: 2005-05-28
UK Release Date: 2005-05-28
Amazon affiliate

Summertime in New York can be a frenetic and fantastic affair. After nearly half a year of living out of a closet, eight million-plus eagerly flood the streets to make their stories public. Mixed with the normally torpid climate, the city becomes a sweaty and sensual cesspool of flirtatious energy and colorful activity; it's business as usual, with a touch more flesh and foot traffic. This summer has been unusual, as it has been graced with some gorgeously temperate days that have left a noticeably tender touch on the Naked City; while the swelter usually sets a low boiling point for acute tempers, the mildness has only left a warm sea of breezy dresses, clip-clopping flip flops, and strolling bodies. In other words, it is the perfect time to ease into a plastic lawnchair in the shade beneath the stoop, mix good drinks with better friends, and let Pale Sunday play.

For any believer of this dream, the mix makes sense because the Brasilian trio conjures such an unabashedly romantic image on their second album, Summertime?. Fusing early sadCure riffs with Concretes innocence (and similarly affected English pronunciation), these guys empty their pockets of posies for girls, girls, and punk girls with the gusto of totally crushed out eight-year olds. Their outlook is intentionally twee, though their cool approach does not hide their time in the "I'm a nerd... but damn hot" school of rock. Subsequently, the production is squeaky Weezer clean, though flatter and lower in budget. However, the record earns points for the details; as Tasty Fanzine points out, Pale Sunday goes out of its way to give you the hooks, in addition to the hook of glossy cardstock packaging, Color Me Tomine line drawings, and a linear note letter wishy wash with love (in broken English, no less). In sum, Summertime? pulls out all the stops in the name of summer fun; it's here, not here to stay, but at least for the day.

Like a breezy read, Summertime? hits its marks in quick succession. Opening with "White Tambourine", jaunty tempos and jangling guitars reveal Corvette verses and crane-shot choruses. Featherweight themes are crooned to the tune of, "Who's that girl playing a white tambourine? / And singing 'la, la, lala...'" Pale Sunday love is framed in neon-trimmed sticker shots (peace sign!), passed among secret friend circles, and buried in a wallet for itself to become a nostalgic relic.

However, like the absurd heart projections of Tanabe "Japan's Johnny Carson" Morihe, Pale Sunday love can also be stupefyingly in love with itself. With the charm of a Lost in Translation Sanrio expression, "Sunday Morning" opines, "I wonder what a perfect Sunday morning / I could lay down on the ground / And say to everyone around / Feel this Sunday morning light." The smother factor of the sentiment would make even Will Farrell think twice about his Elfitude. In addition to projecting familiar male fantasies -- "Skinny girl / Big black eyes / Boots that shine / Red guitar" (note the subtle difference between freak and geek ideals) -- Summertime? occasionally has difficulty relying on its charms alone.

However, with plenty of catchy riffs, PS's purpose is crystal clear: simple observations in the major keys. Blocky guitars and wooshing keyboard fills make "Sunday"'s chorus glitter like Dian-er Ross at the Swedish disco. "Twiggy Superstar" could actually use a boost of handclaps, but all is forgiven when the swinging backbeat kicks in, accented by Hi-Five tremolo. "My Punk Girl" coasts past at a Judy is a Punk clip, but has more Gilman love than CBGB competition in its heart. Especially in this last song, Pale Sunday's heavily referential streak is made intentional and apparent: "Her bedroom is an '80s pub / Even she never saw once." By pulling from a collective pop rock well, Pale Sunday constructs nostalgia. Granted, their vision is eerily void of angst (even a midtempo moper like "She'll Never Be Mine" is littered with magnetic poetry lines like, "She's made of dreams and magic"), but such is the point: their music is specifically for that idyllic moment.

Summertime? fulfills the passing needs of the season, and succeeds by not asking for anything more. The chords have been stated before, the beats are familiar and friendly, and the three sing like they believe "dreams and real life are so close." Not who, but when could you ask for anything more? Now's the time; say, "Saude."


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

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

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