Beautifully Insane

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You might recognize Beautifully Insane’s “Visine” and “Good Dreams,” as they both appeared on Words for Living, PJ Olsson’s 1999 album for Columbia. He’s on the Atlanta indie Brash now, but his approach is still the same: Layer sugary vocals over strummed acoustic guitars and a patchwork of drum programs, keyboards, electronic beeps and occasional strings. The results? Iffy. Structurally, Beautifully Insane has an Eels quality, but Olsson’s songwriting is nowhere near as esoteric. He prefers to roll through life in self-medicated bliss, daydreaming about space travel and the girls he’ll meet on hazy Los Angeles afternoons. Which makes Insane pleasant, but easily distracted too: Olsson drifts off in “Thinking Man,” mumbling “She’s the bomb ...” almost to himself. It’s cool for an artist to bring us into his thoughts, but what happens when his brain turns out to be a big stoner bore? Elsewhere there’s an idea, but no real song. “Soul Soul Superstar” falls well short of its Beck aspirations, while the hokey “Flower” is like Parliament for out-of-touch honkies. Olsson clearly capitalizes when he finds a great melody, as “Visine,” “Ocean of Blue,” and “Perfect” prove. But he needs to exercise more self-control in his home studio.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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