Summer Fiction

Himalaya

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When singer/songwriter Bill Ricchini debuted his Summer Fiction project in 2011, he was lauded as a classic pop architect in the mold of Brian Wilson, the Left Banke's Michael Brown, and a number of other '60s-era maestros with a flair for melody and lush arrangements. At times playful, but often with a pervading sense of sweet melancholia, his songs have a metered kind of jangle that tends to downplay their sophistication. His 2015 follow-up LP, Himalaya, begins right where its predecessor left off with "On and On," an appealing pop gem that could easily be a cousin of first album standout "She's Bound to Get Hurt." Like the iconic hitmakers of yesteryear, Ricchini knows to put the catchiest tracks up front, stacking the deck with two more album highlights in "Dirty Blonde" and "Perfume Paper," both rife with big melodies, rich harmonies, and loads of 12-string charm. At this point, Himalaya begins to stretch out a bit, with slower, piano-led instrumental tracks like the title cut and "Manchester" acting as moody chamber pop interludes between songs the Pet Sounds-leaning "Genevieve" and the wistful, almost Morrissey-esque "Religion of Mine." A late album standout is the understated, folky "By My Side," which feels more in line with mid-'60s Simon & Garfunkel than the West Coast pop Ricchini frequently gravitates toward. While his debut was strictly a one-man vision, Himalaya has a co-pilot in the form of like-minded British popsmith Brian Christinzio, better known as B.C. Camplight, who co-produced and supplied many of the album's keyboard parts and ornamentations. Camplight's own Beach Boys-indebted third album arrived earlier in the year and together, he and Ricchini formed a sort of transatlantic retro-pop dream team. While the music of Summer Fiction inevitably recalls a bygone era, this type of highly crafted pop never goes out of style.

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