The Orange Peels resurface every couple of years with a new album of wonderfully sophisticated pop music that's impeccably produced and stocked with plenty of melody, wit, and emotion. Their 2013 entry, Sun Moon, is their fifth overall and it upholds the group's tradition in fine fashion. With a sonic approach that's a little more spacious and polished than previous efforts, the record feels more like the work of a band reaching beyond tiny rooms and into larger venues. The drums are certainly blown-out and huge-sounding, and Allen Clapp's voice is more expressive and emotional than usual. The prog rock organs that fill space on a few songs and the preponderance of stately midtempo tracks also help make the record arena-sized. None of this means that the Peels have left behind their pop roots or sized their music so large that it loses the homespun charm of the past records. It just means that their pop has some real punch behind it and emotions behind the tunes feel more universal, and less personal. And Sun Moon has the kind of hooks and melodies that anyone who's followed the band has come to rely on over the years. Quite a few of the songs -- like the psychedelic pop ballad "Bicentennial Bridge," the bouncing sunshine pop-inspired "Grey Holiday," and the very melancholy, but still catchy as can be, "Æther Tide" -- would qualify for an Allen Clapp songbook collection. Quite a few sound like the group is heading off into new directions, too, like on the expansive "All at Once" or cinematically epic "Yonder," which unspools over seven minutes of majestic pop grandeur. It's a direction the band could keep heading in and do some really strong work in the future. Mixed in with the lighter fare, though, these heavier songs sound great. While Clapp's vocals and deft keyboard work are excellent as ever, special mention should be given to John Moremen's lead guitar work. His rippling guitar lines and powerful lead parts give some extra muscle to the already beefed-up sound. Sun Moon is an always interesting step forward for the band and fans of intelligent, melodically rich modern pop should find a whole lot here to throw their arms around.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra