If Brian Wilson and the Left Banke had ever teamed up to do a record, it might have sounded something like Summer Fiction's self-titled debut. Summer Fiction leader Bill Ricchini has a splendid way with a melody that recalls the Beach Boys' artier days of the '60s (think Pet Sounds and Smile), while his use of strings, keyboards, and horns suggests the Baroque magic Michael Brown brought to the Left Banke's first LP. But even though Ricchini is as much a romantic as either Wilson or Brown, his songs feel cooler and less profoundly neurotic; in the grand tradition of great pop tunesmiths he's sometimes puzzled by the ways of the human heart, but you can imagine him getting a girl worth having, and Summer Fiction's music would make a fine accompaniment for the film version of their story (figure Wes Anderson or Whit Stillman to direct). With a small army of talented musicians backing up Ricchini (including members of Buried Beds and B.C. Camplight), Summer Fiction has the widescreen grandeur of a grand scale production of the '60s, but while the album sounds rich, it's never overdone, and Ricchini's touch is light enough to make all the details count both separately and cumulatively, not just as a huge mass of sound (and his ability to create something this beautifully crafted on a low budget is truly impressive). Summer Fiction has smarts to spare, but it also has plenty of heart, and Ricchini has made that rarity, an indie pop album that's intelligent and tuneful but with no taint of hipster irony. This is music that's as honest as it is elegant, and it's a true find sure to delight and intrigue anyone with a taste for classic pop.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming