Stay Under the Stars

Singer/songwriter Teitur Lassen's music moves with an unearthly charm on gentle breakers of melancholia and heart-spun hope. Poised between Nick Drake and Belle & Sebastian, the songs are propelled by an elegant simplicity that melts in the ears, leaving only his sonorous tenor and naive wonder. This ghostly, almost ethereal quality is well suited to his daydreaming lyricism. From tracks such as "Waiting for Mars" to "Umbrellas in the Rain" and "Boy She Can Sing!", there's a haunting, off-kilter forthrightness, like Rufus Wainwright channeling Daniel Johnston. Teitur's idiosyncratic approach is best captured here with a stunning, string-fueled baroque pop take on Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire." The album's highlight, however, is "Hitchhiker," which has a throbbing, vaguely malevolent (upright) bassline that balances nicely with the bubbling, understated beauty that infuses much of the album. 4 stars