It's not easy being Michael Penn. Once pegged as Sean's geeky, sensitive brother, now he's left to contend with his new status as the less-lauded husband of press princess Aimee Mann. But the underdog status suits him well -- a neuroticism in both language and tone keeps his ambitious structuralism sounding humble. "MP4 [Days Since a Lost Time Accident]" differs little from the three releases preceding it, running the gamut from grand, kitchen-sink Beatle-pop down to hushed music-box misery and, occasionally, as on "Footdown," into the nasally heights of a melodic temper tantrum.
1997's "Resigned" found Penn much more at odds with himself, scattering thoughts in listless word association. "MP4" comes off as a rebound record, more quirky than it is personal.
The two closing tracks, "Trampoline" and "Bucket Brigade," recoup some of the indulgences, though, foraying back into the cryptic night poetry that makes Penn so classically memorable.
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