Ah, spring time on a New England college campus! I always forget what it’s like when everyone emerges out of the stacks of the library, poorly-lit dorms, and stuffy classrooms to congregate on the sunny main green. Amid intellectual circle-discussions, shirtless Frisbee tosses, romantic lunches, and hipster dance parties, the upstate New York band Summer People couldn’t have picked a better time to release Good Problems, a seemingly perfect soundtrack for this cultural phenomenon.
Eight people collaborated on Good Problems, which was recorded live with no effects, giving it a gritty, authentic feel. Thirteen tracks is awfully ambitious for a freshman project, but the Summer People’s debut proves to be a noteworthy, sophisticated, eclectic mix of classic rock, folk, punk, and indie sounds. Each track evokes a completely different experience of sounds and moods, yet the album as a whole comes together seamlessly and brilliantly.
Several songs on Good Problems give the airy, folksy feel of Fleet Foxes or Death Cab for Cutie, including “Two Hearted River,” “The Other Side,” and “Curtained Rain.” With cheery lyrics, chants, handclaps, and guitar, these tracks produce a delicate acoustic sound that greatly contrast with the other, more traditionally alternative rock vibe of “Shallow Water People,” “Balcony,” and “Two Truths.” With slow buildups to loud percussion and the occasional off-key screaming, some reviewers have commented on the “bi-polar mood swings” of these tracks, and really, the album as a whole. It swings back down to a more melancholic, electric, instrumental feel with “For Giving In” and “The Sun Was Up,” which have a similar to sound to Sigur Rós- both poetic and haunting.
While not everyone will appreciate the experimental, artsy sound of Good Problems', both the messy rock tracks and the poetic mellow instrumentals match the eclectic conglomeration of warm weather gatherings, and is a perfect fit to the desperate enjoyment of the sun right before the exam time crunch. As the title of the album suggests, despite the stress, college life is filled with generally good problems.