The first solo album by former Cavedogs singer/guitarist Brian Stevens removes the sort of rootsy element that typified that fine band. Stevens spent the years between the breakup of the Cavedogs and his solo debut recording and touring with fellow Bostonian Aimee Mann, and 1996's Prettier Than You even poaches a couple of members of Mann's Whatever-era band: former XTC guitarist Dave Gregory and multi-instrumentalist/producer Jon Brion. It's strictly Stevens' show all the way, however, and as if he had years' worth of material to get out as quickly as possible, Prettier Than You blithely leaps from '60s-flecked psychedelia ("Disillusioned Days" sounds like the Byrds covering the Bevis Frond) to a rocking brand of power pop to the sort of country-pop songs Mike Nesmith used to slip onto Monkees albums. From the ultra-catchy opener "Zasu Pitts" on, no two songs sound alike, but Stevens' clever lyrics and strong way with guitar pop hooks make for a bracing debut.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason