It's difficult not to be struck by the similarity between Will Johnson and Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard. Both deploy their tender and wounded but still hopeful baritones within the hushed buzz of lo-fi environs, wrapping their oblique lyrical imagery around melodic tunes that seep melancholia like athletes drip sweat. On that note, Johnson's output has proven every bit as prodigious as early GBV, with Love You Just the Same being his eighth release in the last six years. The differences seem almost regional, as while both share a penchant for the pop stylings of Brit Invasion acts like the Kinks and the Zombies, Johnson leans more toward rustic, slo-mo ballads, whereas Pollard would want to rock your socks off. Comprising a loose cadre of musicians, Johnson's Centro-Matic receives musical support this time from guitarist Anders Parker, who contributes to the crisp, effortlessly enticing sound of the new disc. There is a certain uniformity to the tracks that some might find off-putting, but like a house party of close acquaintances, their shared interests allow ample room for distinction, from the epic quality of "Argonne Limit Co." to the organ-driven churn of "Strahan Has Corralled the Freaks" to the dusky "Supercar." The album's understated grace contributes to making this an unassuming joy.


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