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Houseguest plays light, jangly indiepop that wouldn't leave an imprint in wet cement -- which is fine; it's not that kind of disc. Considering the company the band keeps, Talking Time is surprisingly buoyant; Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney recorded the Akron quartet's sophomore release, crafting a disc for the ears -- the crisp mix is much more compelling via headphones -- and the brain, not the gut.

Singer Ted Mallison sings somber, lilting songs delicately fleshed out with a xylophone here, horns there, and a piano every now and then. Aside from a quick reference to a pizza-eating cat, he makes much of a nautical theme, telling tales of forlorn pilots, long-distance swimmers, and sad seaside scenes. More warming than a shot of Jameson, the co-ed sing-along "Our Talking Times" closes the disc like a campfire song invaded by drunken sailors: "Having a good time/Having a real fucking good old time." It's contagious.

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