The Orange Peels – 2020

The Orange Peels - 2020

Written By: Heather Wysocki


Label: Minty Fresh – Rating:

In the 1990s, a war between indie and rawk raged, when music pitted six-string strummers against screaming axe-splitters, splitting rock music fans into skinny jeans-wearing and Mohawk-sporting factions and determining which would influence the decades beyond.

Well, it’s 2009, and Limp Bizkit and the other Fugazi-inspired yowlers are nowhere to be found (unless you count that Fred Durst sex tape).
And “2020,” the four-years-coming release from Northern California indie front-runners the Orange Peels, proves exactly why: Once the noise subsides, bands like the Peels had that good old-fashioned talent that Durst and company really, really lacked.

Unlike 2005’s “Circling the Sun,” which sometimes strayed too far out of this atmosphere and ended up burning a bit because of it, “2020” is a flashback to when groups like The Orange Peels ruled the roost, rather than stood by and watched the spring chickens write songs about Blackberries.

Coming of musical age in an era when Mark Zuckerburg was more concerned with Sesame Street than Facebook, it would’ve been easy for the Peels to sound, well, a bit aged. But modern takes on classic themes and the group’s signature harmony-and-pretty-guitar songs are as fresh as ever.

Since 1997, The Orange Peels have spent their career perfecting indie-pop, remixing and remastering and replacing band members but never losing their quintessentially California sound.

It’s amazing, too, considering the ever-changing lineup, but core members Allen Clapp and Jill Pries (joined on “2020” by multi-instrumentalist Oed Ronne and a bevy of session drummers) manage to stay true to chronicling life in NoCal, which songs like “Seaside Holiday” and “The Great Outdoors” do sublimely, hand-claps and all.

Nature-inspired lyrics and floaty, flirty harmonies – especially the perfect ones on “Emily Told Me Why” – combine to form the sort of songs perfect for a drive to Malibu down the highway, or just for dreaming about it while wasting time at work.

At over five minutes, “Emily” is longer than its counterparts, but it’s perfect and perfectly scatterbrained, bringing those harmonies into play with guitar-driven bits and Clapp’s Ben Gibbard-on-helium vocals, bringing to one song the sounds of, seemingly, four or five.
Though The Orange Peels extol the virtues of taking wine, women, and song in moderation, they don’t forget their sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll roots, bringing in stronger vocals and strong-enough guitar on “Shining Like Stars” and never forgetting, especially during superb first single “Birds of a Feather,” that being musical is beautiful, but being successful is much better.

Not a fan of listen-to-while-picking-sunflowers pop? Try title track “2020,” where Clapp takes a stab at predicting the future (no evergreens in sight) and does so in an atmospheric manner not used on other songs.

Simply put, “2020” is the future and past of indie-pop, a mix of flashback and idealism and modern ideas that will never again be surpassed by backwards hat-wearing dudes with songs called “Nookie.”

And thank God for that.

Like The Orange Peels? Try: The Gaslight Anthem, The Apples in Stereo, Spoon

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