Album Reviews

Summer Fiction – Himalaya

Janie Cannarella / August 26, 2015

himalaya
Himalaya
Summer Fiction

While there is still a little bit left of the summer, now is the perfect time to listen to some summer-y jams. Bill Ricchini, better known as Summer Fiction, has put together a boardwalk-worthy album for you to wistfully say farewell to the season.

Defying the stereotype of friend-robot destroying, Santa hating Philadelphians, Philly native Ricchini creates tunes that are as fun to listen to as they are complicated to deconstruct. Initially, the album feels like a breezy Beach Boys homage, but the songs give way to a greater individual depth than the original retrospective sound implies. The music’s intent, to echo the whimsical feel of sunny days, is met in his pop melodies and 60s vibes. Keyboards and 12-strings are balanced with pianos and chamber-music-sounds, creating a seesaw of merriment and melancholia.

The time in between Ricchini’s first self-titled album and Himalaya has been one rife with change, travel, and the complexities of adulthood. Having moved from South Philadelphia to Brooklyn, like ET being phoned home, and taking song writing excursions in between – the songs on Himalaya reflect the adventure and caprice of those explorations, while also displaying growth and musical sophistication.

Fine-tuned with help from producer Brian Christinzio, the songs play effortlessly one after the other. Combining memorable pop choruses and finely executed ballads, the lushness of the sound is striking but none of the songs are bombastic or feigning grandeur. They set the mood of the album, both approachable and imaginative. Who doesn’t like rich harmonies, Johnny Marr-like guitar jangles, and fun-feel melodies?

The lyrics in songs like “Perfume Paper” and “Genevieve” are bookish and charismatic, without trying too hard. The infectious chorus on “Lauren Lorraine” accompanies jangly melodies making you want to put this song on repeat while dreaming of catching a wave with your favorite beach bum/bunny (and this Philly reviewer hopes that the reference to “Divine Lorraine” is an homage to the city’s landmark).

But Ricchini isn’t without his bouts of world weariness. While his songs are occasionally romantic in nature, they are balanced with practicality. They’re intermittently about love, but not always loving. The slower, more introspective songs, including the instrumental title track and “Manchester” provide the equilibrium for the whimsicality.

So while it’s still hot and humid enough to slather on some sunscreen and head to the shore, be sure to take advantage of repeat listening to Himalaya. When the winter blues hits, you’ll be thankful to have the wistful memories these summery tunes evoke.

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