Since my daughter was born ten months ago, it has been very rare that I pick up a record for review. I'm either at work or at home and when I am at home it is constant baby duty. However, almost three months ago I saw Neon Fiction by Sundowner available in the review pool and jumped on it. Then I forgot about it until right about now.

The reason I decided to make an exception for Sundowner is because I loved 2010's We Chase The Waves and still listen to it regularly. Knowing frontman Chris McCaughan spends the majority of his time as one-third of The Lawrence Arms, I gave them a shot, but ultimately don't really care for them. So when I saw a new Sundowner record I can honestly say I was pretty excited.

On the opening track "Cemetery West" it sounds like McCaughan is picking up right where he left off on We Chase The Waves. The song has a light yet somber mid tempo feel and a catchy, but short chorus, that makes it easy to remember. When "My Beautiful Ruins" hits on track two, the mood of the record takes quite a melodramatic shift. It isn't a bad song in any way, it just completely kills the momentum provided by the opening track and the album never really recovers. It is odd to think that poor sequencing can have such a detrimental affect, but that is how it feels. Neon Fiction ends up sounding more like a collection of songs rather than an album.

There is good news though, these are good songs. They are a little more sedated than what I was expecting, but as far as singer/songwriter material McCaughan does a great job. The atmosphere of the record doesn't really provide the space for a big hook, but most of these tracks thrive on the minimalist approach of Sundowner. The "guy with a guitar" formula doesn't work without good songwriting, but that isn't a problem for McCaughan.

I admit I'm not nearly as thrilled with Neon Fiction as I was We Chase The Waves, but after taking a step back and taking the record as it is, I like it. I'd still prefer a little more pop, but that doesn't seem to be the goal of Sundowner.