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P.J. Olsson's record company describes him as a "futuristic folkie" and while that's both oversimplifying and overdramatizing his sound, it's still pretty close to the truth. Like Beth Orton, Beck and even recent Rickie Lee Jones, Olsson is equally adept at wielding an acoustic guitar or hip/trip-hop loop, as well as combining the two with thought, precision and soul. The touchy-feely psychedelic lyrics of some songs on his first full-length album (a few of these tracks were previously released in different versions on a 1998 EP) get heavy handed, especially in the cringe-worthy simplistic words to "I Am the Sun" ("hug hug and warm everyone") and "Dandelion" ("I am a dandelion seed, float, float, float, away"). But the music is consistently interesting, if not as challenging as his label would like us to believe, with Olsson's acoustic guitar and Donovan-ish vocals featured prominently.

Thankfully the hyperactive trio of tunes that open the album in a breathless volley of free-form words, jittery, brittle beats and trippy overdubbed vocals (which sound like the Bee Gees, Moody Blues and sometimes the Beach Boys hopped up on amphetamines), give way to a less aggressive, more melodic atmosphere. But even though the easygoing, mid-tempo "Visine" begs for radio play, head-scratching lyrics like "the ozone like a clit, dropping sunshine on my lips" throw a potential monkey wrench into the proceedings.

But somehow Olsson pulls it off. Just when you think he's flown off reality's edge, he startles you with beautiful, breathy, unpretentious ballads such as "Ready for a Fall," "People" or "Beautiful Woman" that float along on melodies so simple, luxurious and elegiac, you'll be immediately transfixed. The subtle loops seem natural, the words don't dive into the loopy lake and Olsson's wispy, delicate voice effortlessly connects with his songs. And pretty soon you'll be singing along with "love is my Thorazine, Lithium hell and hand cream" as if you, or he, have a clue as to what that means.

P.J. Olsson plays Smith's Olde Bar on Mon., July 17.

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