With a name that knowingly evokes the Beatles and the pinnacle of pop songwriting, The Paul & John set expectations sky-high for their debut album. In Inner Sunset, the fruit of a collaboration between Paul Myers (The Gravelberrys, Flam!, A Wizard A True Star—Todd Rundgren in the Studio) and John Moremen (The Orange Peels, Half Japanese, Roy Loney), they have simply delivered one of the best guitar pop half-hours of 2014.
Myers and Moremen, who play every note on the album and share vocal duties, show themselves to be accomplished songwriters and expert arrangers throughout Inner Sunset, building each song on a foundation of sturdy hooks and memorable moments (the handclaps on the bridge of “Hungry Little Monkey”, the superb duelling guitars on “When I Lost My Way”), pristine harmonies, and clever wordplay (“’77 and the punk rock summer/I was just another of the wannabe Strummers”). While there are echoes of Wilco’s sun-bleached pop circa Summerteeth, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, the Wondermints’ Bali and Cotton Mather’s masterful Kon Tiki—and the album will certainly appeal to fans of all four—The Paul & John’s Inner Sunset has a unique spiritual warmth, most notably in the lyrics of “Inner Sunrise”, the bouncy singalong “Inner Sunset” and the peaceful “Inner Sundown”, a trio of songs that work as a manifesto of sort without relying on New Age-y platitudes. It’s not all pretty pop though—Myers and Moremen can rock out with the best of them, as they do on the soaring “Can’t Be Too Careful”, where their harmonies share space with pounding drums and a lengthy, careening guitar solo.
With six weeks left before Labor Day, the summer of 2014 may just have found its perfect soundtrack.
You can listen to Inner Sunset and purchase it in a variety of formats from The Paul & John’s Bandcamp page.