Hampered a bit by a fairly terrible band name (supposedly chosen using one of those random word generators one finds on the Internet) that makes them sound like yet another cookie-cutter mall punk emo band, London-based internationalists Sunny Day Sets Fire are actually an immediately likable indie pop band with subtle psychedelic influences. Following up on a pair of scene-setting EPs, debut full-length Summer Palace makes a strong case for the band right out of the gate with the exhilarating widescreen pop of "Wilderness," a meaty and melodic piece of summertime ear candy that hits all the pure pop pleasure centers while, remarkably, not sounding enough like any particular band to make its influences obvious. Little of the rest of Summer Palace hits those exalted heights, though the swooning, expansive "Mandarins" comes very close, but it's a consistently solid record filled with perky vocal hooks, luxurious male/female harmonies, and inventive, tuneful arrangements. Utterly charming without being precious and cutesy, Summer Palace is an unexpected gem recommended to fans of the Apples in Stereo, XTC, or any of the Dave Fridmann-produced bands.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason