Portland, Ore.’s Chris Robley is a well-grounded indie rocker with a singer-songwriter mind. Robley’s third effort, Movie Theatre Haiku, has an Elliott Smith likeness, including a heart-suffering perspective with a poetic perceptiveness, which gives Robley’s songs an understanding and literate musical depth.

Movie Theatre Haiku is chock full of eclectic arrangements that support Robley’s unguarded, alienated contemplations. Power guitar-quickened “My Life in Film Festivals” and folktronica “Solipsist in Love” are both driven by lyrical regret. The anti-romantic “User-Friendly Guide to Change” melds Beatles-esque pop with electronica elements, where guitars and beat-happy drums are balanced by perforated horns.

The highlight is “Permanent Fixture of Regret,” a smartly written picture of downturned self-loathing that links Loudon Wainwright’s lyrical insights with Belle and Sebastian’s melodic indie pop textures. Movie Theatre Haiku is an album of tension and ambition that, like a William Faulkner short story, is best experienced with detailed and repeated inspection.

Grade: B



Movie Theatre Haiku is currently available.