Setting Sun


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Gary Levitt's work as Setting Sun is at once a triumph of the modern 21st century solo artist -- nearly everything is recorded and played by himself, though there are guests at various points on Fantasurreal -- and a reflection of its potential limitations. Now that "indie rock" has taken on a certain codified air of politeness and general tastefulness in form, hearing an album that only slightly tests those boundaries feels frustrating, no matter how accomplished and polished it sounds. A song like "Don't Grow Up" starts out with what is almost a parody of that form -- a big-sounding, very politely sung number heavy with meaningfulness and just-rough-enough-sounding edges. It isn't quite neo-Supertramp but it's not that far removed. Other songs like "Handsome Bride" and "The Tree" continue in similar veins, but that does make the occasional changes more refreshing. Thus "Driving" is more chuggy fun and could almost be a cousin to something like "Running Down a Dream" by Tom Petty at the start, only with odd synth swirls and a different overall mix to its credit. Somehow the song "I Love Mellotrons" seems to sum up the whole sense of "lost in a tradition" approach by the band in the end, something aware and accomplished in equal measure but perhaps too self-aware to ever truly be surprising.

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