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The Sunshine Fix: Age Of The Sun

Album: Age Of The Sun
Label: Emperor Norton

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Of all the acts in the first wave of the indie-pop collective known as The Elephant 6 Recording Company, The Olivia Tremor Control was at once the most tuneful and the most far-out. For every dreamy, delightfully Beatles-esque garage composition on Dusk At Cubist Castle and Black Foliage, bandleaders Bill Doss and William Cullen Hart included a few surrounding snippets of trippy, boundary-pushing experimental noise, certain to try listeners' patience. Now on his own, Doss has begun referring to himself as "thebilldoss," and he's spent the past year leading a band he's dubbed The Sunshine Fix. The new project's long-form debut, Age Of The Sun, resembles Doss' prior work, except that many of the deliberately obscure sonic filters have been removed. Which is good, because while Cubist Castle's freeform excursions delivered contextual atmosphere, Foliage tilted the screwing-around-to-song ratio too far toward the former. Age Of The Sun contains some brief, weird instrumental tracks, but they're designed to provide the record with a cohesive melodic theme. The Sunshine Fix leans far more heavily on well-lit rock songs with memorable hooks and imaginatively dreamy instrumentation. The title track, for example, starts with a chorale, moves into the neighborhood of archaic pop pastoralia, and then gets intriguingly novel in the breaks, exploring a series of guitar-solo textures before returning to classic toe-tapper form. Also noteworthy are the haltingly funky "See Yourself," the music-hall-derived "Hide In The Light," and the muted, surreal acoustic ballad "Sail Beyond The Sunset," all of which provide the expected doses of cleverness, prettiness, and headcase atmosphere. The world may not need another homegrown orchestra playing retro-focused pop—even one led by a musician as accomplished as Doss—but at least bands like The Sunshine Fix provide plenty of useful "artyfacts" for some future, postmodern edition of Nuggets.