Sunshine Pops! is the third album by The Superimposers, a trio comprising former fishmonger Dan Solo, Miles Copeland (no relation to the former IRS Records boss) and, for this album, American Shawn Lee. Copeland studied sound design under the tutelage of renowned avant-garde artist Dr Cathy Lane, but The Superimposers’ music bears no convention-defying pretentions. Theirs is accessible, tuneful, sixties-influenced pop reminiscent of The Bees.
Copeland’s academic background hasn’t manifested itself in any overt experimentation, yet Sunshine Pops! is clearly the work of music students. This is an exquisitely performed album, whose immaculate, detailed production belies its (presumably) constricted recording budget.
As befits the title, Sunshine Pops! could have been designed by committee to meld seamlessly with the sunny days, long evenings and enervated pace that are theoretically the hallmarks of the British summer. Every single sound on this album seems to have been pulled from a big musical bucket labelled ‘summery sounds’. There are sitars, xylophones, ‘ba-ba-bah’-ing backing vocals, gently undulating basslines and even, at the start of The Harbour Mysteries, seagulls.
The lyrics go the way of the music, relying on rather stock bucolic imagery – ‘strolling on the beach’, ‘fall into the sea’, ‘rise into the morning sun’ and so on. In light of the band’s Bournemouth roots, they might have been better off throwing in some references to Boscombe Pier and the Pleasure Gardens and getting some sponsorship from the city’s tourist board.
The trouble is, this slavish devotion to evoking the mood of a sun-drenched summer circa 1967 tends to be inimical to truly inspired songwriting. Each of these nine tracks is very pleasant and, occasionally (The Beach, the lovely Tumbledown), a notch or two above that standard. But truly transcendent moments are notable by their absence.
But if the main failing of Sunshine Pops! is its failure to meet the songwriting standards of Brian Wilson and Arthur Lee, then it’s a failure it shares with most bands in thrall to the guitar pop of the 1960s. No-one will regret buying an album as downright listenable as this.