Sunny Day Sets Fire: Summer Palace

You can usually tell everything you need to know about a band by their name – Staind, Crystal Method, Motorhead, etc. – and then there are bands like the inexplicably named Sunny Day Sets Fire, who will likely turn off the very people who will love them before they’ve heard a note because of their name alone. For the record, they are far more about sunny days than setting fires, and Summer Palace, the debut album from the UK-based band – their members are from Italy, Hong Kong, Canada and England – is one of the year’s finest, a delirious mix of New Pornographers-style smart pop and psychedelic tinges that bring to mind Flaming Lips and Polyphonic Spree. “End of the Road” sports a spaghetti western guitar hook, while “Stranger” is straight-up bouncy power pop, and “All Our Songs” will make A.C. Newman green with envy. To carry the New Pornographers comparison a step further, some songs sound like Newman-written songs while others, namely “I Dream Along” and the (annoying) “Map of the World,” could have been the work of Dan Bejar. It all adds up to one of the most adventurous and rewarding pop records you’ll hear all year. More, please. (IAMSOUND Records)

Sunny Day Sets Fire MySpace page