Music Review: Sundowner, "Neon Fiction"

Three albums into his solo venture, Chris McCaughan continues to get better with every Sundowner release.

McCaughan, guitarist and the less snotty-sounding of the two singers in Chicago punk outfit The Lawrence Arms, relies on more of an acoustic approach on his Sundowner material.

“Neon Fiction” continues that trend.

The album, while acoustic in nature, borrows heavily from the music of Jawbreaker. McCaughan even does his best Blake Schwarzenbach vocal impersonation on “Life In Embers” as he sings “I’m a collage of success and defeat.”

Even with his musical influences out in the open for all to hear, McCaughan still makes the sound his own thanks to his ability to tell masterfully crafted stories.

His best songs are the ones on which he lets us into his life, often while giving us a guided tour of Chicago.

On “Cemetery West,” McCaughan takes us through his childhood neighborhood while also telling a story of not giving in to the darkness that once surrounded him.

The stories within some of the other songs on “Neon Fiction” aren’t as complete, but they’re not too far off.
McCaughan does well in not making the album predictable.

“Poet Of Trash” relies more on musical twists than his lyrics. It’s also the best example of his music being on the same level of his dynamic song writing.

The song, which is featured late on “Neon Fiction,” possibly gives us a glimpse of what to expect on the next Sundower album.

Rating: Three stars

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