Sunday's Best The Californian

Sunday's Best had a lousy 2001. The Los Angeles-based group suffered through a terrible tour, tough personal problems and the loss of their primary songwriter. Somehow they soldiered on, returning now with their second full-length release, The Californian. Instead of carrying on with their emo-based style, they reinvented themselves somewhat, softening their sound and slowing things down, not unlike that of the Promise Ring. Working again with producer Tony Nash (Dandy Warhols, Elliot Smith), their sound is that of band that has earned their battle scars. The songs are catchy and smooth, but charged with a valid sense of melancholy. Singer Edward Reyes took over songwriting duties after founding member Pedro Benito departed, and has managed incredibly well in his new role. Although the energy and pace of their past might have changed, this is still a good collection of songs that they can be proud of. (Polyvinyl)