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Jon Auer 

Songs From the Year of Our Demise (Pattern 25)

Half the songwriting team at the core of Seattle's long-running Posies, Jon Auer believes in the power of pop so deeply that he awoke one day to discover he'd become a member of his favorite band, Big Star. Unfortunately, Big Star's heyday had passed by the time Auer joined up: Last year's In Space was pretty weak sauce from the group responsible for "Thirteen" and "September Gurls." Songs From the Year of Our Demise suggests one reason it sucked: Auer was hoarding his good stuff for his debut solo album. Fair enough. The "demise" in question being that of Auer's marriage, the dude deserves to comfort himself with a fine melody or three.

Indeed, Songs is best when Auer seems to lose himself in his devotion to vintage late-'60s pop, rather than in his post-divorce doldrums. The album's back half is soggy with melancholy ballads in which Auer admits to "waiting for hope to arrive"; it never does, and neither do the rocking guitars. Instead, proceed directly to "The Likes of You," where Auer lays lyrics like "Summertime -- it's so fine" over crunchy glam-pop frosted with synths, chimes, and horns. Tasty.

More by Mikael Wood

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