The Cost of Living begins with the dreamy piano rock tale of the surreal experience of wrapping your car around a tree in the middle of the night on an empty highway who knows where. "The Accident"'s brilliant, melodic songwriting, reminiscent of Stephen Merritt of the Magnetic Fields, is perfectly complemented with David Singer's sleepy falsetto and in-awe lyrics: "I pulled myself out through the windshield and saw that/the night was as wide as the sea/I brushed all the flecks of glass out of my hair and/I counted the stars I could see." The effect nearly turns your heart inside out and rockets you through the cosmos of an unspoken flood of emotion. This is the promise of the debut solo album from the leader of Chicago's Kid Million. For the most part, the record keeps up its end of the deal. The title track shows off Singer's pop prowess and knack for Beatles-esque horns, "Base of My Skull" would fit nicely alongside Bob Mould's sugary, heartfelt rock confessionals, and "Will" reaches Elliot Smith's range of late Beatles love. But the DJ Shadow beats and sampling of "I Need to Be Able to See You" and the synth rhythms on "I Don't Mind" can't seem to find their place. On a record that so beautifully unleashes the essence of pop, these songs just don't belong. But any dissonance is more than made up for by the flowing, psychedelic Beach Boys meets Mercury Rev melancholy of "Hawaii." You'll wish you were there.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano