Luke Wesley

Because We Never Talk About It

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When heard from the next room, Luke Wesley's songs telegraph the bouncy sheen of the lightest Ben Folds or Marc Cohn numbers (or on trickier epics like "Ohio," the Pianoman himself) -- they're bright, strutting, major-chord piano rockers that suggest an uncomplicated good time. On closer inspection, Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based Wesley's nakedly confessional lyrics take a dour turn; the juxtaposition is a little jarring, but is in keeping with a long line of cynical pop romantics. On "I Hope You Like This Song," he sings, "I got a face for radio that girls come onto/and I can't read music and I pound on my piano/I got nothing that anyone could ever want." On another track, "Keep It to Yourself," Wesley off-handedly catalogs a series of bad dates and poor romantic choices, and the above-mentioned "Ohio" recounts a draining conversation about a breakup. Fortunately, the mundane dreariness of the lyrics is paired with music that is thoughtfully composed, engaging throughout, and sung in a casually soulful drawl that is equally winning. Upbeat songs like "Pretty Boy" and "Sorry I'm Not Hotter" are instantly catchy, while the slower ones ("The Story," "Suburbia") have a stately charm that draws listeners in. Wesley gets sly and bluesy on "Fools Gold," but mainly stays in pop territory. The production and arrangements are uncluttered, creating faithful reproductions of the singer's popular solo gigs on New York's Lower East Side. Altogether, this debut album announces the arrival of a competent and occasionally inspired singer/songwriter.

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