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Record Review


Brendan Benson may be a native of Detroit, but at heart, he's an unrepentant Anglophile. Some -- including, apparently, his girlfriend -- find this trait less than endearing. "She says stop pretending/You're not John Lennon," he sings on "Folk Singer," a particularly unfolky shot of guitar pop from Lapalco.

Fortunately, Benson ignores her, filling his second album with jangly guitar lines, smooth harmonies and engaging Revolver-era hooks. But while many who've aped the Beatles have come out sounding like the Monkees, Benson's doing more than just a few good impressions here, crafting his own romantic misadventures into irresistible brokenhearted power-pop.

It's been nearly six years since Benson's debut, One Mississippi, charmed the pants off the few people who heard it. And in that time, he's sharpened his chops considerably. His girlfriend's dig notwithstanding, his voice is actually more Paul McCartney than John Lennon, ringing with sweet yearning on weary-eyed ballads ("Metarie") and buzzing toe-tappers ("What") alike. "You're Quiet" is a punchy blast that recalls early '90s pop wonders Jellyfish (former Jellyfish member Jason Falkner co-writes, co-produces and plays on five of the album's 12 tracks), and some exceptionally potent guitar work puts the swagger and shake into "Eventually." There's not a single note out of place on Lapalco. And Benson manages to never sound too precious, kicking out his tunes with a reckless, unbridled joy that's simply infectious.

Brendan Benson plays the Echo Lounge Fri., May 10.

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