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October 15, 2002

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It seemed certain that Jets to Brazil's tentative, lyrically driven rock, as captured on their critically hailed second disc, Four Cornered Night, would raise singer-guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach to star status among the college cutie set. Having spent much of the '90s in Jawbreaker, Schwarzenbach--a detail-oriented songwriter who makes sadness feel like a breath on the neck--was already pedigreed in indie rock. Well, things didn't quite work out like that, which is probably why the band's third album, Perfecting Loneliness, keeps its eye on the prize, mixing vivid song-stories with angular, slightly rickety melodies that might collapse into heaps were it not for the Jets' flashflood, twin-guitar attacks. Schwarzenbach's conversational delivery makes his missives that much more searing (it's as if he's talking right to you) and if the songs lack the immediacy of those of kindred spirits such as Spoon, they grow with each play. It takes a few trips through "Wish List" before the lyrics "Mom and Dad, can't remember if I told you / How glad I am I finally got to know you" to kick in. Several spins more and the song's debt to New Order's "Love Vigilantes" materializes. The chugging "William Tell Override" rocks in all the right places and while "Disgrace" apes Neil Young's "Mr. Soul," that was probably the intent: a modern protest song in honor of the man himself.


Kim Hughes