Cass McCombs PREfection

Though his obscurity is a true crime, Baltimore-based troubadour Cass McCombs continues to make timeless pop music. His debut album, A, walked a fine line between beautifully plucked folk music and pristine guitar-led pop, all while accompanying that unmistakable ethereal voice. PREfection finds McCombs wandering more into a divine pop realm once tread by acts like Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths and the Cure. Though the reverb-driven guitars and "synthonies” are reminiscent of a certain era, he’s not some new romantic rehash of the ’80s. His slumberous drones and ghostly textures create a majestic ambience, wrapping elegance around his traditional pop song structures. The shimmering beauty of his vocals hit their peak on the flawless slow-burning "Equinox” and the heart-pounding sorrow of "She’s Still Suffering.” As mesmerising as it sounds, McCombs isn’t looking to put the listener in a deep sleep. He breaks out his Spacemen 3 fuzz pedal with a speed-driven organ on "Tourist Woman,” which ends up detonating with a full-on guitar assault before it crashes into a wistful, unexpected reprise of A’s "AIDS in Africa.” "Bury Mary,” as well shows off his enthusiasm for having fun, constructing the perfect representation of Lou Reed fronting the Pixies. Minus the exasperating car alarm that kicks in at the end of the album, McCombs has crafted a captivating and seductive album of glistening music with clever words. PERfection more like. (Monitor)