Matt Costa's sophomore effort, Unfamiliar Faces, finds the singer/songwriter delving into similar territory to his 2006 debut, Songs We Sing, crafting hummable, somewhat intricate AM pop-influenced tracks. As with other similarly inclined artists like Josh Rouse, Costa trades in a kind of grab bag, post-alternative rock singer/songwriter style that references '80s British icons like Morrissey and the Cure as much as it does classic singer/songwriter and sunshine pop touchstones like Todd Rundgren, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, and others. A pleasant presence on record, Costa's vocal style does bring to mind a mix of the Shins' James Mercer and the Decemberists' Colin Meloy, and admittedly his odd penchant for affecting a British accent is a bit annoying -- he's from California for gosh sake. That said, tracks like "Mr. Pitiful" and "Cigarette Eyes" are immediately catchy and radio-ready singles that display Costa's obvious knack for Brit-pop-inspired songcraft. Similarly, such atmospheric and melancholy affairs as the very Smiths-sequel "Vienna" and countryish "Never Looking Back" are affecting and moving ballads perfect for the afterglow set.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar