While his inspiration didn't come back immediately, it did come back. And with the help of Rick Rubin, who produced Mercy...Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy, the act's latest album and its most definitive work to date, he finally made the record he'd set out to create initially. Rubin started working with the band ten years after expressing interest in Gnecco: When DreamWorks folded, Ours was picked up by Geffen and then passed off to Interscope, which cut the group loose, allowing it to ink a deal with Rubin's American imprint.

Thanks to Rubin's hands-off approach in the studio, Gnecco and his mates crafted a heady, cohesive album's worth of material that at last does justice to his otherworldly voice. The first two records had moments of brilliance, but at times they sounded like they were written around Gnecco's vocals, whereas Mercy sounds like a fully realized piece of art from top to bottom. Although the music is as dark as ever and there's another song about running away, it's much more difficult this time to overlook the inherent optimism of lines like "Don't spend your whole life waiting for your whole life, thinking that it's over."

"I don't think it was the material, because we still play a lot of it, and it sounds great to me now," Gnecco concludes of the shift from previous records. "I just think we didn't have the time to develop to where the band made the songs sound bigger than just about me. There's a sound going on now where I feel like I'm only part of the equation, you know? Back then, I was all of it."

This thing of Ours isn't as dark as it seems.
This thing of Ours isn't as dark as it seems.


Ours, with Plain Jane Automobile and Yerkish, 8 p.m. Friday, November 28, the Toad Tavern, 5302 South Federal Circle, Littleton, $15, 303-795-6877.

Nothing tortured about that.

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