Philadelphia-based dream pop outfit Suburban Living return with Almost Paradise, their sophomore LP and first for 6131 Records. An outgrowth of the bedroom project begun in Virginia Beach by bandleader Wesley Bunch, Suburban Living became a more collaborative affair in the City of Brotherly Love with the addition of guitarist Chris Radwanski, bassist Peter Pantina, and drummer Michael Cammarata. Their self-titled 2015 debut showed an affinity for pleasantly melodic, shoegazing pop with hints of downcast Twin Peaks-inspired lushness. Recorded and mixed by Jeff Zeigler (the War on Drugs, Kurt Vile), Almost Paradise acts as a logical sequel, building on the band's dense guitar pop with additional synth layers and more robust production values. Their jangling, heavily chorused guitars and dreamy synth lines have a distinctly late-'80s 120 Minutes-era alt-pop flavor with shades of the Cure and Cocteau Twins being most apparent. Laid-back tunes like "Once/Twice," "Lovely Times," and "Jenny's Song" are pleasing in their hazy, edge-of-sleep kind of way, but for the most part, Suburban Living don't do a whole lot to distinguish themselves from either their influences or from the various other dream pop revivalists mining this somewhat narrow gene pool. Bunch and his bandmates have a nice ear for melodic hooks and little pop ornamentations, but so much of Almost Paradise feels too studied and bereft of uniqueness. They've managed to capture the tone and feel of benchmark albums like Disintegration and Heaven or Las Vegas without really bringing any new elements to the table. It's a nicely crafted album, for sure, but one without a distinctive voice.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger