Sundowners - The Larger Half of Wisdom (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Larger Half of Wisdom (2013)

Dirt Cult Records

First things first: this isn't Sundowner, the mainly acoustic project of Chris McCaughan from The Lawrence Arms, so no getting overly excited because you think it's a new, secret release. However, Sundowners' (from Minneapolis) second long player is the kind of record that deserves a fairly high level of excitement and for those already aware of the band, The Larger Half of Wisdom will represent a step up from previous releases, whilst for those enticed into listening to it for whatever reason, it is hoped that they would be pleasantly surprised by what they encounter.

Previous Sundowners material has been good and last year's self-titled 7-inch (also on Dirt Cult Records) was a then-high point for the band in terms of quality. However, it doesn't take long for The Larger Half of Wisdom – opener "Bluegills and Black Birds" to overshadow all their earlier work. Yes, those first few moments of the track will make one think 'Ah, another band that would sit well with the Fest crowd' but once the harmonizing kicks in and the distinct ending to the song plays out, it's apparent that there's more than that sort of thing happening.

There's a lot to be found and heard on The Larger Half of Wisdom and all of it is built around melody and hooks, with the occasional off the wall moment thrown in for good measure. This record crosses a number of genres but at the end of the day, melodic punk rock encapsulates it perfectly. At moments it brings to mind Timeshares, more for the overall feel that the sound delivers: A fresh, summer-like quality that has more going on that is initially apparent. Some people might file this under ‘pop-punk' but this is really a multi-faceted beast, and any pop element heard is purely that, as opposed to any pop-punk leanings, and that comes through in the melodies and harmonies within the record.

At least a third of this album is of the highest quality with those tracks being "Belly Up, Buckle Down," "Bird World Country," "The Language of Man" and "Dig Deeper" – the latter features a great, warm vocal performance and is constructed around a strong melodic base that drives the song along so sweetly; this was initially the track that stood out above all the others upon first listen.