In Soviet Russia My Heart Breaks You

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"What do you want me for?/I always ask this of all my prey/Prey, tell me: what do you want me for?" The gloriously singable lament that launches this break-up album is the first hint (well, second, if you count the album title) that, for the next half-hour, listeners will witness a wrestling match between keening pathos and self-deprecating wit. Spoiler: wit wins. But clever, sad lyrics on the order of Magnetic Fields are just a part of what makes this Brooklyn band's fifth full-length release stand out from the pack of concurrent indie pop releases. Songwriter George Pasles knows his way around a pop song, having seemingly studied at the feet of Wilson and Spector, and this record demonstrates a mastery of harmony-laden idylls with clamorous Pet Sounds arrangements ("Battle Hymn of the Romantic," "You Loved Me," "I Don't Either," "Back to the Big Lie") and lively new wave word-fests ("Monsters of the Gowanus," "Oh, My Mechanical Heart") that make judicious use of synthesizers and jangly guitars. Although there's no filler here, some tracks leap out: "Nothing Is Wrong," with its charming hook and gorgeous, layered vocals, is an instant earworm. "Keep It from the Baby" opens with a 50-second spy-vs.-spy instrumental passage that gives each member of the band a chance to display his or her supple musical skills, and a brief but chilling a cappella section confers the line "If I can't save you, no one can save you" with an air of prophesy. "The Daily Oblivion" contains both the funniest lyric and the kernel of the album's theme: "Above the fold/beneath contempt…City to Boy: Drop Dead." Rest assured that the boy in question is still standing by album's end, and that we're laughing with him.

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