The Upshot: Sunshiney indie pop leavened by an open-ended approach to arrangements that allows the requisite darkness to seep in, and some of the sweetest, most emotional vocals you’ll get this side of the Beach Boys.
BY FRED MILLS
Hailing from Yellow Springs, Ohio, a tiny town east of Dayton and home to Antioch College, Speaking Suns is on album numero two, and by any musical standard, Range is a winner. Nominally described as “indie pop,” the group—guitarists Jacob Diebold and Jay Teilhet, drummer David Byrne, bassist Dylan Sage, and trumpeter Jonathan Jacky—readily shifts between sunshiny radiance (joyful opening track “Spell,” with its massed vocal harmonies and peppy horns), moodier meditations (“Out of Range” has a distinctively woozy, almost Wilco-type vibe), and excursions into darkness (there’s an angular complexity at play in a track like “These Are the Days” which wouldn’t have been out of place on a classic Flying Nun band’s record in the ‘80s).
With nearly every song clocking in at nearly five minutes or more—several hit the six- and seven-minute mark, with the amazing “River,” a luxurious, droning slice of Rain Parade-esque West Coast psychedelia, a full 9:46—the band allows itself plenty of room to stretch out and explore the myriad sonic possibilities such open-endedness affords them. Guitars twine and unfurl in classic dueling fashion, yet they never veer off into Proggy self-indulgence, thanks in no small part to the way the rhythm section is always being mindful of bringing things back to basics. (Moe Tucker would be proud of these guys.) And the vocals are to die for—somebody here grew up listening to the Beach Boys.
Pressed up on translucent emerald vinyl so gorgeous that the group’s hometown is rumored to be changing its name to Green Springs, in a limited edition of 300 and housed in a sleek-stock gatefold sleeve, Range hits all the right notes from start to finish—from inside to outside.
DOWNLOAD: “River,” “She,” “These Are the Days”