The Celebrity Pilots

Beneath the Pavement, A Beach! (Sunken Treasure Records)

In the liner notes to their latest, the Celebrity Pilots thank Peter Sellers, Thomas Pynchon, and the Kinks, among others. It's a telling list, as this is droll, literate pop, as timeless as the heartache that inspires it.

For the past year or so, Pilots main man Chris Sheehan has been playing guitar in Doug Gillard's band, and Pavement sounds as if he took notes the whole time. Tracked at Kent's Waterloo Sound Recording with Todd Tobias (Gillard, Guided by Voices), the album benefits from a busy three-dimensional mix. Nearly every song bursts with layers of sci-fi synth and whirring samples, making Pavement an album that really comes alive when the headphones are on. Sheehan sings with a soft, plaintive lilt, his guitar providing all the fireworks on stirring pop daydreams ("Lemons From Lemonade") and growling garage rockers ("Long Live the Sting"). With Gillard having recently left town, Pavement makes a strong case for Sheehan's taking his place as the region's leading pop troubadour.