Local Wire

Adam Green

Solo album number four from New York singer-songwriter Adam Green is pleasant Sunday afternoon pop in the vein of Roy Orbison or Leonard Cohen; clean string arrangements overlay acoustic guitar and warm electric piano while Green's sonorous baritone swings with elegant panache through the lower registers. His delivery is reminiscent of Johnny Cash and heavy on the Calvin Johnson vibe (Green covers Beat Happening's "Cast a Shadow" on the album), even straying into Elvis territory on the stomping "Nat King Cole." Green's lyrics are toned down from his earlier, Moldy Peaches-era style of indie joke-folk, interspersed with colorful non sequiturs and occasional tender moments with casual stabs of obscenity. Here Green's lyrics occasionally get under your skin, but then he croons lines like, "Bye-diddly-eye-die/Never gonna chew the outline of a pie" in that lazy, charm-laden voice, and you remember the days when he was up-front with his irony and simply wrote like a middle-schooler staring out a window. Maybe he's just after the ladies: The album sleeve is full of his pouty glances and elegantly wasted pseudo-Strokes poses, so the whole "serious pop songwriter" shtick could be aimed at the doe-eyed demographic. But the polished pop production, slow-to-mid-tempo songs, and Calvin Johnson-ish vocals leave the listener bored by the end. Green needs to develop more before he can convincingly leave his joke-rocker persona behind.