The Paul and John – Inner Sunset (2014)

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Due to the name, it’s easy to assume these guys are yet another act recycling the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But no, the Paul and John compose original material, and feature Paul Myers and John Moreman, who are both duly respected in music circles far and wide.

Aside from performing in bands like the Gravelberrys and FLAM!, Paul has written books on Todd Rundgren and Long John Baldry, while John’s credits include the Orange Peels, Flotation Device, Roy Loney, Half Japanese, the Neighbors, Jimmy Silva’s Goat 5, and the Neighbors. And if that isn’t enough talent to turn you on, the duo’s frigglingly fantastic first album, Inner Sunset (Mystery Lawn Records) is co-produced by Orange Peels lead singer Allen Clapp.

Considering so much Orange Peels blood runs through the veins, it comes as no shock Inner Sunset exudes a sound similar to the prized and praised Northern California band. But instead of simply being an offshoot of the Orange Peels, which don’t get me wrong as such a feat is nothing to sniff at, the Paul and John sport a cool and charming chemistry all their own.

Bursting with good vibes, plumped by lilting vocals, billowy choruses, and grabbing melodies, “Everything Comes Together” contains the kind of heart-melting quality found in the best and brightest pop tunes from yesterday and today. A hypnotic swing and chugging rhythms light the fire on the terminally catchy “Hungry Little Monkey,” while the equally electrifying “Can’t Be Too Careful” chimes, careens, and climaxes to a clutching beat.

Looking back on the youthful joy of playing in bands, followed by disillusion and disappointment, but eventually returning to a sense of innocence and an unconditional love of music, “Long Way Back” rumbles and rolls with power chord riffs, “How ‘Bout That” combines a bleak and brooding finish with a rocking edge, and “Inner Sunset” is an acoustic beauty. By the way, the title of the disc is christened after a San Francisco neighborhood, the city where Paul and John live, and just so happens to be one of my favorite districts.

Packed with prime guitar pop, “Inner Sunset” jangles, twinkles, rocks, and rivets with songs as contagious as the measles. Although the tunes are smartly structured and methodically executed, the Paul & John are obviously having fun doing what they do. There’s a lot of freedom and space here, giving the songs a variety of colors and shades. Along with the Orange Peels comparisons, the influence of the Beach Boys (particularly in the harmony department), Teenage Fan Club, and Fountains of Wayne occasionally visit the surroundings.

Pop-rock gourmets with impeccable taste and timing, the Paul and John have recorded a dazzling debut album that’s sure to draw hand-claps and high-fives left and right. Because Inner Sunset is so exceptional, it will be quite a challenge cooking up subsequent recordings that are even half as excellent, but I have faith in the guys and know they can do it. Having said that, may the Paul and John release another album soon — the world is waiting!

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