Perfecting Loneliness, the third album from under-the-radar veterans Jets to Brazil, sees the band achieve the state of grace that contemporary indie rockers crave. Former Jawbreaker singer-guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach heads up these '90s pre-emo survivors, playing the role of the enlightened Gen Xer with a good bead on his relationship with his parents ("Wishlist"), but still not entirely sure how to make his girlfriend happy ("Lucky Charm").
The album uses Mellotron, lap steel and ambient grit, and the players shine in turn, working in Cracker/Wilco mode to deliver expansive back-porch tunes modeled on earthy landscapes and panoramic sunsets. The album's cornerstones are a series of sprawling, piano-driven ballads -- a song style Counting Crows once rode to great acclaim. Counting themselves among the failed and damaged, these onetime hipster luminaries can sing convincingly about people with minimum-wage jobs who can't, for a number of reasons, afford to call in sick ("The Frequency"). Yeah, Jets to Brazil are still grappling with issues that many of their peers had resolved by 1998 -- but that only means they have some of their raw vitality left.