The Sunshine Fix

Age of the Sun (Emperor Norton)

Let’s face it, the late-’60s psychedelic pop aesthetic can be a giant pain in the ass to appreciate unless it’s done without pretension. The form has found itself in constant jeopardy; most notably, Prince nearly buried it in the mid-’80s with his idiotic Around the World in a Day. Then XTC side-project the Dukes of Stratosphear offered their masterfully parodic balm, Psonic Psunspots, which laid the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Byrds onto its chopping block. With Age of the Sun, ex-Olivia Tremor Control co-leader Bill Doss expands more reverently on the Dukes’ blueprint without getting lost in ol’ Purple’s brand of paisley metaphor. The Athens, Ga.-based Olivia Tremor Control’s dreamy late-’90s style, discordant and sprawling, finds little room on the 15-track Age. But although Doss generally sticks to a reliable three-minute pop formula, he does apply his former band’s studied approach to classic trip technique. From poignant Sgt. Pepper-isms to bright yet twisted candy pop and orchestrally stabbed country a la the Grateful Dead, Age rings with skill. Doss and his crew of musicians successfully meld the psychotropia in their souls with a defiantly lo-fi feel, and the album’s guitar arrangements blend effectively with his piping, folky vocals. That’s not to say that the album has no weak spots — the sloppy demi-soul of “See Yourself” falls rhythmically flat despite its cool noisy risks, and “Mr. Summer Day” is simply far too dumb for irony. But overall, Doss has managed to buff up the canon’s golden moments without blinding us with the cornier trappings of its innocence.

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