As co-songwriter and part-time singer for the country-flecked indie band Rilo Kiley, Blake Sennett may feel slightly marginalized: Jenny Lewis, the Cher to his Sonny, possesses a voice with real authority, and when Sennett's more delicate declarations creep in for the occasional song, they can seem out of place. With The Elected, Sennett intended to take the reins completely, to write and record a solo album with contributions from friends, but not a solid band. A quartet eventually gelled from the recording sessions for Me First, which took place on borrowed time at Elliott Smith's studio, and it seems clear from the album's texture and feel that it consists of one person's ideas given bubbly life by interaction with others. Two seemingly disparate producers leave the most obvious fingerprints: Jimmy Tamborello, who's half of electro-pop duo The Postal Service and all of fuzzy electronic project Dntel, clearly helped Sennett weave glitchy bits into an otherwise sedately analog outing. And while that may seem like genre-jumping for its own sake, the result blends nicely; think Madonna's "Don't Tell Me" reworked for the thick-black-glasses set. The lovely, loping "7 September 2003" sets the tone, introducing Me First with 20 seconds of IDM breaks before settling slowly into a loping, slide-guitar-led chugger. On that end of the production continuum is Mike Mogis, a leading light in the Omaha scene. (He's had a hand in just about every Bright Eyes recording.) When the two sides meet, something special emerges: "Go On" moves from glitchy weirdness to an impassioned romp that should make Cursive fans weep, if they weren't weeping already. Meanwhile, Sennett twists and turns his songwriting more when he's alone than he does with Rilo Kiley, and while playing spot-the-influences isn't hard–Grandaddy might be due a royalty on "C'mon, Mom," and Badly Drawn Boy could find something to whistle along with on "Don't Get Your Hopes Up"–it's also pointless in light of the album's genuine warmth.

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