INCOMING: Summer Of Love



I go way back with these guys, back to 2001 when they were just called Bill Ricchini [pictured, right], aka the Philly-native-turned-Brooklandian-ad-man pure-pop-for-now-people auteur/wunderkind who is, for all intents and purposes, Summer Fiction. Back then Ricchini was a dotbomb refugee who spent the unemployment benefits afforded him by his freshly-issued CDNow pink slip building a sad-sack bedroom-pop mini-masterpiece called Ordinary Time that worshipped at the altar of the three B’s — Beach Boys, Beatles and Bachrach. Critics swooned, chicks screamed, Jesus wept. He followed it up with the more-assured but-less-appreciated Tonight I Burn Brightly in 2005. After playing out that string, Ricchini took an early retirement from public music-making Bill_Ricchini_photoshoot9867and settled into a years long hermitage in the straight world of day jobs, domesticity and crock pot cookery. In 2010, he adopted the nom de pop Summer Fiction and threw his hat back in the ring with a self-titled collection of lush, sad-pop gems, most notably the standout single, “Chandeliers,” which really must be heard while watching this wonderful video (think Wes Anderson does French New Wave). Now comes Himalaya, the official soundtrack to your summer. Impeccably recorded in Manchester with former-Philly-music-scene-fixture-turned-Mancunian-ex-pat Brian Christinzio of BC Camplight fame behind the board, the new album sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned church with nothing more than Johnny Marr’s 1983 Black Rickenbacker 330, a bottle of Pernod and a candle. The guitars ring and chime and sparkle immaculately in between pristine silences, and the vocals map the velveteen intersections of heart and ache, invariably clustering into swooning Wilsonian chorales (most notably on the glorious Beach Boys homage of the title track) and Spectorian sighs. As with every Ricchini outing, Himalaya is a sun-kissed, windows-down ride to the gilded palace of mope where, as per Mike Love’s apocryphal complaint about Pet Sounds, even the happy songs sound sad. Gorgeous stuff. Resistance is futile. — JONATHAN VALANIA