Here's a recipe for disaster on an epic scale: Put a great singer with exquisite taste in arrangements (Hannah Marcus) together with a musician as prone to avant-garde overstatement as he is to instrumental understatement (David Grubbs) and then throw in a successful and somewhat verbose author (Rick Moody) to help out. You can just smell the pretense wafting from a sure-to-be-muddled message, can't you? You can't? Yeah, neither can I. This loose and temporary aggregation of smarter-than-thous has gone and made a great, straightforward album that tacks lyrics about love, loss and a bicycle repair shop onto some surprisingly provincial sounds. Marcus' voice is absolutely stunning, Grubbs seems more than content to play some pretty regular-guy music and Moody when forced into the confines of pop-song structure is quite restrained. Although the album stumbles occasionally ("Rat on the Tracks" is just too heavy-handed in its downtown-on-the-farm irony), it gracefully maintains its simple beauty.