It's tough to talk about Goldenboy without referencing Elliott Smith. Band frontman and multi-instrumentalist Shon Sullivan got his start playing in the late icon's backing band, where he began writing material of his own. But comparison between the two isn't quite fair. If Smith created primarily autumn and winter records, then Goldenboy's third album Sleepwalker has the feeling of summer all over it.
It's an easy-going summer, too. Opening track "Different Moon" typifies the record, launching into blustery guitar and big drums before the delicate vocals bring the number down a couple notches. No matter how intense the backing band gets, Sullivan's slow singing has the strange ability to mellow everything out. The result is an album that feels like an idyllic teenage July, complete with warm afternoons, an awkward romance and plenty of firefly light.
Sleepwalker is very well produced—maybe a little too much so. With the tight instrumentation and rock-solid mixing, there's a slick veneer over the surface that would be fun to see chipped away at a live show. But beneath that production's surface, it's clear that Sullivan has earned the right to step out from his mentor's shadow for evaluation on his own merits.