(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

CD review - Setting Sun, Fantasurreal (2010)

Frontman Gary Levitt steers his band, Setting Sun, on a meandering line between indie pop and folk. Their latest release, Fantasurreal, due out on June 1, has a foundation of booming drums and electronica fills with Levitt's fragile toned, distant vocals -- which tips the scale towards pop. But the ever present acoustic guitar, sweet harmonies, and strings pull things back into balance. It's an original mix of sounds, even as they evoke elements of Status Quo (Pictures of Matchstick Men) and Camper Van Beethoven. The songs vary from the very upbeat Driving to the simple, reflective The Tree.

One Time Around is a bipolar somersault of a song. The verses take a big drum beat from the Clash's Guns of Brixton, toss on a layer of vocals, and throw in some horn accents to create a philosophically detached feel, The bridges, on the other hand pick up an Eastern European vibe and ominous psychedelic fatalism. The tidal forces try to tear it apart, but it persists unbowed.

Don't Grow Up also shifts sections from a downbeat ballad with a flattened, minor tone to an arcing soar that sounds a little like the Flaming Lips. The drum mix is particularly interesting, with a fat snare and booming kick drum that build in distortion as the song progresses. The embracing strings and earnest lead are just icing on this rich, satisfying tune.

Fantasurreal is a ginger tea of an album, refreshing and occasionally sparkly on the palate.

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