Richard Swift The Atlantic Ocean

Over the years, Richard Swift has no doubt thrown many a fan for a loop. Since 2007's Dressed Up for the Letdown, this American songwriter has gone from arty chamber pop to full-on electronica to '50s-styled garage rock, making genre-jumping a given and his next move anyone's guess, at least until The Atlantic Ocean. For better or worse, Swift's latest effort is the first since Letdown that embraces the familiar rather than the unknown, returning to a standard singer-songwriter approach for a traditional Swift record in the old sense of the term. Swift describes it as "Prince sitting in on John Lennon's Plastic Ono sessions" but really it's more like the Tin Pan Alley balladry of his early work, with his croon driving piano-powered pop and only occasionally cashing in on a newfound Motown vibe, such as on highlight "Lady Luck." For some, The Atlantic Ocean will likely be a welcomed return to form, but it's also Swift's tamest album and brings little new to the table. (Secretly Canadian)