On 2005's I Sold Gold, David Terry's DIY indie-pop project Aqueduct matched Neil Young twang-and-lope with the soulfulness and invention of Stevie Wonder, and produced a sound so big and bent that it was often hard to hold. The new Aqueduct album Or Give Me Death unkinks a little, while retaining the monster hooks and pop-culture-addled lyrics that made I Sold Gold a favorite among fans of Beastie Boys and Pavement. At times, Terry seems to be making up words on the spot while taking a walk around his living room. How else to explain "As You Wish," a brassy love anthem that quotes liberally from The Princess Bride?

Terry's miniaturist inclinations don't always mesh with Aqueduct's increased technical polish, but it's tough to quibble with songs like "Living A Lie," where the complex guitar/drum pattern sounds like an analog version of electronica, or "Broken Records," where the buzzing I Love The '80s production is supported by a powerhouse melody that could stand up to any Hall & Oates hit. Aqueduct's cracks only become pronounced when Terry gives the full synthetic-symphony treatment to ideas best left in the practice spaceā€”like the chorus of "Keep It Together," with its liberal use of the word "bitch." At the same time, the gap between Terry's idle tone and his laser-focused arrangements gives Aqueduct its own style. In Or Give Me Death's opener, "Lying In The Bed I've Made," the percussive interplay of drums and piano provides a glassy surface to Terry's sleepy apology. "I've been a father to you all / in spite of what you've heard," he drawls, enticing listeners to lean in closer, curious about what he's going to say.