Even though he rose to prominence as half of the songwriting team behind psychedelic powerhouse The Olivia Tremor Control, Bill Doss has always been something of a solo flyer. As a key member of that distinguished unit, his talents certainly shone brightly (particularly on 1999's stunning Black Foliage
), but until now, he hasn't ever really had the stage to himself, so to speak.
Something of a concept record revolving (no pun intended) around the solar center of our universe, Age of the Sun is the record Doss has been waiting nearly half a decade to unleash. Bereft (well, almost) of the maniacal experimental noodling that was a key component of every Olivias release, Age of the Sun is a meticulously crafted pop album that's as well suited for curling up on a bleak winter night as it is for driving with the top down on a bright summer day. Employing a cast of characters that includes members of Essex Green, The Four Corners and Of Montreal, Doss has created a glimmering musical oasis that owes equal debt to Brian Wilson, Frankie Valli and David Axelrod. Tracks like "Hide in the Light" and "That ole Sun" simply gush with complex vocal harmonies and sunburst melodies, while interlude pieces like "Ultraviolet Orchestra" and "Inside the Nebula" afford Doss the opportunity to indulge his experimental side without sailing too far afield. Age of the Sun's only notable misstep is its 20+ minute closing track, "Le Roi-Soleil", a mind-numbing, time-wasting drone that reeks of artistic excess.
Pompous tomfoolery aside, Age of the Sun is a fine effort from a singer/songwriter who's just begun to spread his metaphorical wings.