Golden Sun Songbook

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During their three-year life span, Florida developed a pretty unusual sound for a supposedly standard pop/rock combo. Not that Golden Sun Songbook is inaccessible or otherwise erudite, but the band takes what should be relatively simple pop songs and adds inventive three-part harmonies, a banjo, and tasteful, well-placed horns, and ends up with a batch of songs that transcend the confines of indie pop. The songs are totally free; the feeling with which they are rendered as much a part of their sound as the tones and structures of the songs themselves. Florida's songwriters are not afraid to play with the pop music paradigm of verse-chorus-verse progressions -- many of the songs, especially the lengthy, anthemic "Holiday," incorporate shifting tempos and continually introduce new musical themes and sections. The band keeps things interesting while maintaining their balance, never overloading the arrangements with unnecessary changes or sonic detritus. What makes this album as good as it is, however, is the indefinable sheen that the songs bask in -- they sound like they're floating in an endless summer haze, ensconced in the imagery of nostalgia, but at the same time fresh and timeless. Though Florida's self-produced debut sports some debatably questionable production values, Golden Sun Songbook stands as a remarkable record that tends to leave those who hear it wondering why everyone else hasn't.

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