July 25, 2005

The Orange Peels "Circling The Sun"

With the heat of summer raging without abating, it's no wonder that the world seeks solace in cool, sunny music. Really, if you think about it, bands like The Beach Boys and Weezer served that purpose, and they served it quite well. Listen to any of their hit records, and you're instantly taken to a place where the kids are hip, the girls are cute and the warmth of the sun is tempered with cool, cool water. Maturity? You don't care about what they say about that, anyway--for the moment, you just want an endless summer filled with good things, good food, fast cars and beautiful boys/girls to keep you company.

Such sunny pop allusions are quite fitting for California's The Orange Peels. Led by the weekend pop genius of Allen Clapp, they've infrequently released records for nearly a decade, but one thing's quite clear: their limited output is inversely proportional to the quality of their music, and Circling the Sun is a can't-go-wrong blast of warm and friendly pop music that's perfectly attuned to the joys of a summer at the beach. The imagery hits your mind the instant you hear lead track "There's Something in You," a cool-sounding upbeat pop number sung in Clapp's delicious pop falsetto and it's clear that the length between album releases did nothing to quell the man's overall genius. It's reminiscent of another great pop band, The Ocean Blue--which isn't surprising, considering The Ocean Blue's Oed Ronne is now a member of The Orange Peels.

Luckily, the brilliance doesn't abate from such an excellent beginning, as Clapp and company explore all kinds of sounds. Whether it's the harmonica and harmony-laden "I Don't Wanna Shine," the chiming guitars and mellow 70s-styled So-Cal rock of "Long Cold Summer," the bouncy power-pop punk of "What's It Like Mary Jo" or the sad, tender sounds of "California Blue," Circling the Sun expertly navigate the pop-music waters, and we, the listeners, are the lucky recipients of Clapp's brilliance. But all of these songs are nothing compared to the excellent title track: a fast-paced, synth driven rocker that recalls The Cars and The Rentals. Instantly hypnotic and overwhelmingly wonderful, it's a song that redefines the word "catchy" for a new generation, and if any song deserves to be a summertime hit record, it's that one.

Circling the Sun is nothing short of pop genius. If it takes Clapp several years to complete a record that's as brilliant as this, then so be it, because it is certainly worth the wait. If you, dear listener, need to know what summertime is all about, or simply want a record to help you recapture your youth, there's no perfect balm for your soul than this album. Simply brilliant.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.theorangepeels.com
Label Website: http://www.parasol.com

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