Cool Choices

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Book-ended by the lines "this is how losers feel" and "let the light in," Cool Choices, the fourth long-player under the S moniker for Carissa's Wierd co-founder Jenn Ghetto, suggests a journey, and a painful one at that. Breakup albums, despite their ubiquitous nature, will always resonate with listeners, as the emotional chemtrails that follow the end of a relationship are generally relatable to all, and thusly Ghetto's engaging melodies, honest voice, and succinct enunciation elicit both sympathy and empathy. Produced by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, Cool Choices isn't the sadcore downer that its subject matter would have you think it is, as Ghetto's knack for crafting pop hooks almost always outweighs any tendencies she may have toward wallowing (she's much more Tegan & Sara than she is Lisa Germano), and Walla's simple yet radio-friendly engineering lends just enough sheen to standout cuts like "Vampires," "Like Gangbusters!," and "Balderdash" that they manage to convey a sort of breezy optimism that's almost completely at odds with the subject matter. Still, this is an artist who released an album called Puking and Crying, and Cool Choices is built on a foundation of heartache, and more austere selections like "Pacific" and "Losers" definitely sound like they were written in the wee hours beneath a single light bulb with an ashtray spilling over onto a desk littered with the sort of erroneous food and beverage-related detritus that tends to accumulate around an individual who has traded hope for the cold comfort of despondency. That said, they're awfully pretty.

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