The Roy Owens Jr.

This Is an Illusion

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The Roy Owens Jr. is a band, although the frontman seems to refer to himself by that name, too. That's very confusing, isn't it? Luckily, the group's debut is more forthcoming. This Is an Illusion is a collection of tradition-minded numbers touched up and twisted around with elements of power pop and indie psychedelia, guided mostly by the froggy soul vocals and eclectic lyricisms of the man called Owens. After the lilting music box intro of "April Stars," the Roy Owens Jr. roars into the robust, organ-driven "Lonely Lovely Day," which turns on little peels of guitar and an enormous stadium chorus. "The longer that you stay," Owens wails, "the more I stick my head into the ground." The cut is beer-commercial big and finds kindred spirits in the feedback-heavy rocker "Roots" and Foo Fighters-ish "Bird of Love." But remember that little opening tease? The Roy Owens Jr. proves to like poppy psychedelics as much as it does beery trad rock. The drifting "Take Me as I Am" suggests Built to Spill's flightier side, marrying Morse code signals to oozing harmonies and meandering acoustic guitar. A set-break piece gets the most of the word "Ah." And "Stars" comes complete with whirring synth, weird lyrics ("We'll float through the universe with me as your slave"), and pleasantly plodding percussion. It's just as loosey-goosey as the record's rockers but better because it shows those melodramatic cats in Counting Crows how to unwind and relax. This Is an Illusion works mostly because of this offhanded yet pointed approach to songcraft. The Roy Owens Jr. won't wow you with new directions. But the band will take you to some pretty comfortable places, and make green eggs when you get there.

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