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Who's Your New Professor

Sam Prekop
Who's Your New Professor
(Thrill Jockey)

I didn't even know that Sam Prekop had a new album coming out, but after hearing Who's Your New Professor, I'm sure glad that he finally got around to doing a follow-up to his awesome self-titled debut. Even though he's long been the lead singer of The Sea & Cake, and I can sometimes get my fix of his voice that way, Prekop's debut album is one of those releases that I can put in just about any time and enjoy. It doesn't matter if it's night or day or rainy or sunny or whether I'm in a good mood or a bad one, there's just something about it that seems to work.

Because of that, I had a little bit of suspicion as to whether his second release would have the same type of draw for me, yet after many, many spins, I can honestly say that it has much of the same staying power. Part of that no doubt has to do with the warm pipes of Prekop himself, who may have one of my favorite voices in all of indie rock music. When you put it alongside the breezy, windy-city instrumentation that he surrounds himself with on the release, it's almost a no-brainer.

Perhaps Prekop holds back the better material for himself, and perhaps he simply knows the value of taking his time, as Who's Your New Professor has very little of the inconsistencies that the last couple Sea & Cake albums have had. The opening track of "Something" is a breathy, almost shimmering pop song that effortlessly mixes bright guitars and a warbling keyboard layer while "Dot Eye" opens with a subtle bossa nova structure before lopping off into a closing section that marries an almost perfect groove on the rhythm section with some of the best guitar fireworks that I've heard on any release in the past year.

In addition to being a musician, Prekop has made a small name for himself in the art world, having shown paintings at galleries in New York, Paris, and Glasgow, among others. Interestingly enough, his songs, although never unfocused, always seem to have an open-endedness that only adds to their strength. "Splendid Hollow" feels like it's going to build into something louder, yet keeps a delightful even keel while tracks like "Density" and "Little Bridges" exist in his own musical world where everything sounds slightly familiar, yet never repetitive or like a fascimile of anything else. With eleven tracks that run under forty minutes in length, Who's Your New Professor is a remarkably efficient album that zips by with plenty of highlights and begs for a press of the repeat button.

Rating: 8