Melbourne-based singer and guitarist Steph Crase has released two albums and two EPs of guitar-heavy pop tunes under her solo moniker Summer Flake. For her third album, Crase continues on the same musical trajectory of her previous work. The result, Seasons Change, works best as a collection of recordings instead of a realised project, and while there are few real missteps taken on Summer Flake’s third album, the totality feels as though it never makes its way to being as unmistakably catchy and impossible to put down as some of the best poppy guitar albums do.
There is a middling feeling surrounding the record as a whole, but it is certainly not without its peaks. “In The Dark”, the shortest offering on Seasons Change, is a perfectly bite-sized indie-pop tune that’s reminiscent of the best bands like Saturday Looks Good To Me offered during their tenure, and it is when Summer Flake venture into more lively, pop songs that they leave their strongest impression. “Domino” centres around a wonderful, hypnotic guitar part, building upon that infectiousness to grow and reach serious heights on the song’s choruses.
Songs like “Mind Reader” and “I Can’t Go On” begin as low-key, slow guitar pop songs, and spend much of their runtime ruminating in that aesthetic, making it seem like the entire song might stay in that one place. However, both of these tracks find vitality in their final thirds. “I Can’t Go On” especially opens up into a particularly affecting apex in its final portion, with the emotional performances and epic instrumentation making it the grandest moment on the entire album.
Other songs unfortunately never find their way out of that guitar forward indie-pop. Songs like “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Hand in the Fire” and others stay too in the pocket, without an undeniable or great centre to dwell in. It would be overkill to plainly say that these songs don’t work, they just linger too long on musical ideas that fail to captivate and that repetitiveness in the songwriting eventually leads to tiresome listening. Thankfully, the list of songs on Seasons Change that overstay their welcome is short, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all of the other songs successfully grab listeners’ attention either.
“Heaven Knows” plays like the slow song at a school dance and even includes some nice guitar arpeggios but just finds itself fading into the background. “You’re A Star” has a nice climax towards its conclusion, but it’s not enough to completely drag the track out of aimlessness or shine amongst the better portions of the album. “Try Me Now” is a bite-sized 90s singer-songwriter gone “rock” song for the modern moment, and while it doesn’t displease, the song never feels like it ever really gets to where it wants to.
There is little on this album to dislike, but there is little to emphatically love or that feels like it is worthy of multiple return listens — Seasons Change is neither remarkably offensive or substantially consequential. There are valiant efforts at undeniable guitar and jangle pop goodness strewn across the album’s nine tracks, and even occasional moments of greatness, but as a whole, it never quite reaches beyond the middle of the road.