Baths Obsidian

On his debut release, Will Wiesenfeld hadn't fully found himself, but on Obsidian, the L.A. musician delivers a much more cohesive vision. Gone are the whimsy and hair-brained sketchbook quality of Cerulean and, staying true to its title, the tone of Obsidian is far darker than the debut or the quietly released Pop Music/False B-Sides compilation. Lyrically, the album veers into bleak territory — the black plague; the cold, animal meaninglessness of loveless sex; our constant fear of God in medieval times — but musically the album is poppier than his debut, presenting a melancholic push-pull contrast of darkness and pop. As well as the obvious Björk and early Kate Bush influences — mainstays for Wiesenfeld — echoes of the Postal Service can be heard on more up-beat tracks "Miasma Sky" and "No Eyes," there's a touch of Radiohead on "Ossuary" and even Parade-era Prince can be detected on the more delicate, piano-centred "Ironworks." (That latter influence must have come to him via a more circuitous route, as Wiesenfeld will tell you he's never much listened to the Purple One). Obsidian is a gorgeous suite of electronic pop songs that will draw you in and stay with you for days on end, and somehow it sounds like Baths more than Cerulean ever did. (Anticon)