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Joshua Novak

On Joshua Novak's latest release, the talented songwriter appears to have gotten a bit too comfortable within his own sound. Ephemeron has its moments of tranquil beauty, and as an introduction to Novak's work, it stands up as an intriguing record. But the emotional tone of this album is consistent in its lugubriousness, never approaching the T-Rex harmonies or Bends-era Radiohead guitar candy of Dead Letters, his previous release. The closest it comes is the opener, "In the Dark," with its stomp-clap rhythm track, but even that is rooted in a foreboding sense of loss that continues throughout the record, without any sense of playfulness. "Informaniac" is a pleasant, mid-tempo, synth-heavy number, sounding like the video-game soundtrack of an emo ninja alone in an ice castle, while "The Singing Forest" owes as much of a debt to the Smiths' "Asleep" as "Don't Come to L.A." does to Jimmy Page. Essentially, Novak has delivered a worthy, almost-beautiful yet ultimately unexciting record.