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Dntel is Jimmy Tamborello of the Postal Service, and Dumb Luck is his second album under that name; like the Postal Service, Dntel is an exercise in brilliant collaboration. Tamborello has an incredible ability to bring out layers in other songwriters' work that they wouldn't necessarily have used themselves, and Dumb Luck's nine songs sound like better-textured variations of the contemporary indie rock pulse.

Jenny Lewis' vocals and acoustic guitar on "Roll On" are infinitely more modern-sounding than her solo material, with video-game-like flourishes and clicks. Grizzly Bear's Edward Droste becomes even more haunting on "To a Fault," and Tamborello's saxophone combined with lyrics and vocals by Andrew Broder (Fog) on "Natural Resources" is a perfect combination of acoustic and electric sounds. The male/female vocals and guitar on "The Distance," with guest musicians Arthur and Yu, sound even more pop-music sweet when layered over the jangling of a set of house keys.

Mia Doi Todd's amazing voice rises up in the middle of the album on "Rock My Boat." But perhaps the best example of what Tamborello can do is "Breakfast in Bed": Microbeats perforate Conor Oberst's quiet vocals, and underneath the weepy vocal melody, Tamborello's blend of rough and bubbly electronic noises sounds more sonically imaginative than anything on Oberst's newest record.

Naturally, all of the different musicians lending their voices, words and various other talents keep things interesting, but the best thing about Dumb Luck is that it flows and floats flawlessly from song to song.

More by Annie Holub


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