It’s been two years, give or take a few days, since Golden Bloom announced their Pledgemusic campaign for their full-length album Searching For Sunlight. I’ve been a fan for a few years, so I made a pledge to the project on September 17, 2013. I had no idea how long it would take, but the band did a good job of keeping pledgers updated with what was going on, even offering up teasers as the songs were completed. That’s how I know that on October 2 they finished “Circles Round My Mind” and let us all hear the tune (almost 2 years before release-now THAT’S some early access!). It was fun to follow along their adventures and epic Jenga-playing, but ultimately I donated the money because I knew they would make a good record that I could eventually hear in its entirety. While Searching For Sunlight doesnt have an official release date, I’ve been enjoying it all summer. It’s still a little early, but I wanted to make sure everyone is ready for the album when it gets here.
No Day Like Today is a really well-produced, good sounding record by Golden Bloom. No offense to all the hard work and sweat they put into that one, but Searching For Sunlight blows it away in pretty much every technical aspect. The engineering and mixing of the album are perfect. You can piece out every sonic element in every song while none of those parts take anything away from the whole, which I think is pretty much what you go for when you’re mixing an album. Shawn’s vocals are pushed out front so you can hear the lyrics crisply, the guitars sound great, even more so the drums really come through, and that’s a tough thing because in a lot of pop music the drums sound more like a machine than a person playing them.
If you’ve listened to Golden Bloom before, you kind of know what you’re gonna get. At least in loose terms you understand it’s going to be well-written tunes with great melodies and a feeling of optimism that never wanes. They remind me a lot of Fountains Of Wayne, which is a great pop band that’s been around forever. Both bands understand that you can do a lot with your four basic instruments, and if the songs are good you don’t really need anything else.
My favorite song on the album is “Book You Never Read.” It might also be the most simple song of the 8 included here. It’s a soft, almost folk song featuring some maracas and banjo in a major way. It almost sounds like something off The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner by Ben Folds Five. Shawn Fogel does a great job of writing and singing from the heart, and the lyrics on this one are fantastic: “Is this a version of yourself you recognize? Are you standing up for yourself, for your family, for your health? Or laying down and giving up? Are we out of time or out of luck?”
Searching For Sunlight follows a nice flow, starting out high and getting more melancholy as the tracks go by. And then towards the end of the album it picks back up again. The title-track and “Come Back Home” are more upbeat than most of the songs, especially the latter with the heavy guitar and synth sound. And then the final track is like a culmination of everything that came before it.
They got Adam Duritz from Counting Crows to sing backing vocals on “Want Love,” and it adds a little something but it would have been fine without him. It’s a really sweet song, and I think if they ever do a re-issue of this record I’d like to hear an acoustic version with just Shawn.
I don’t know if this is the record that will turn Golden Bloom into a household name, but I know they deserve as much. They’ve been putting out great music for a long time. I hope everyone takes some time out to give it a listen when it comes out.