by: The Archies

The Archies' fourth album is the first to deliberately attempt to step away from the kiddie-show image of the early albums. It's kinda like the Monkees' Head, only not deliberately weird, and truth be told, not one-half as interesting. By this point in the Archies' history, two distinct camps had emerged, led by producer Jeff Barry, whose interest by this point was already being transferred to starting a solo career for his songwriting partner Andy Kim, and singer Ron Dante, who was pushing for the Archies to turn into a more adult venture. The first to go was the cover photos of Archie, Jughead, and the gang, replaced by a generic solarized shot of people on a beach and trite liner notes attempting to be hip. The nadir of the album (and quite possibly of the Archies' entire career) is "A Summer Prayer for Peace," with lyrics as embarrassingly earnest as the title, set to a non-melody that tinkles along droningly for about three minutes. Of the rest of the album, the title track (the Archies' final charting single) is one of Barry and Kim's more appealing evocations of summertime bliss, made to come out of a tinny AM radio, and both the jangly Rickenbacker bliss of "Suddenly Susan" and the peppy bubblegum of "Comes the Sun" rank among the Archies' better album tracks. As bubblegum records go, Sunshine is a step up from the usual cynical pile of slapped-together tunes by anonymous session pros, but it doesn't compare to the high-sucrose charms of the first couple of Archies albums, possibly the genre's best sustained work. ~ Stewart Mason

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