The jaunty yet melancholy title track, in which the speaker observes a girl tapping out her novel on a typewriter, revels in the odd power of creativity. She "says the plot is getting stranger / It's taken over / And the hero's run away / And no one told her / But she can't control the page." "Little Twig," meanwhile, is a paean to carefree beauties clattering around town on dingy bicycles that sound "like a can of nails on an angel's tail," another example of Halstead's sad lyricism married to bubbly pop.
Sure, there are a few surprises, like the keyboard riff and canned drum beat of "Always the Good" and the flamenco-inspired chords of "Paint a Face." But it's only when Halstead focuses on his lyrics that a song like "No Mercy for the Muse" can manage to wrench the heart by posing questions to an artist's lady of inspiration: "Does your golden hair fall in waves? / No mention of a spot / tantrum or tooth rot?" Oh! Mighty Engine is spotless and perfectly capped, too.
Enjoy it while grilling a steak, though.