Not that I’ve been there, but Sunnyvale, California sounds like the premiere habitat for a rock band such as The Orange Peels, whose fifth disc, Sun Moon, overflows with bright, healing alt pop salvos that sound primed for vacation playlists. Stylistically, the record won’t make you flip—the Peels never try to escape their broad roots in vintage rock and pop, but the chord progressions, tones and textures, and warm moods make for a worthy collection by very intelligent songwriters.
Allen Clapp’s voice is one of my favorite things happening throughout: He’s got a geeky croon à la Doug Martsch or Wayne Coyne (“Bicentennial Bridge”) but can fly into a gorgeous falsetto (“Your New Heroes,” “All At Once”) or deliver convincingly on close lyrical moments (“Grey Holiday”). The vocal lines are quite hooky, but with smartly-written lyrics that never make the band’s cheery backdrop feel saccharine. Said backdrop is a thickly-layered one that pulls liberally from the Beatles & Friends playbook, brought alive by tactful guitar solos, sudden ambient breaks, and endless production curiosities: Stabs of electric piano on the almost-new-wavy “Watch Her Fly,” glockenspiel and floaty synth-strings again conjuring the Flaming Lips on “Aether Tide,” the pseudo-psych guitar/piano swirl in yearning closer “Yonder.” The love and care given to the finer details is audible in every track, making for a wholly-solid record with little in the way of filler.
This was my first time hearing The Orange Peels, and it is a shame that they seem to fly so low under the radar, as they have quickly become one of my favorites. One positive thing about being a well-kept secret has to be the freedom to go with your own flow and satisfy your deepest creative impulses—Sun Moon sounds very much like a band doing what they love most.