Ours: Precious

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Ours

Album: Precious
Label: Dreamworks

Ours' Jimmy Gnecco practically invites dismissal: A brooding, overwrought vocalist whose physical resemblance to Jeff Buckley pales next to his vocal similarities, he doesn't exactly present himself as an underdog worth rooting for. The group's debut, 2000's Distorted Lullabies, often seems like a perverse sort of tribute album, albeit a strangely ingratiating one. Yet somehow, on Precious, Gnecco and company's derivativeness (and, appropriately, preciousness) is finally overshadowed by a terrific collection of memorably outsized anthems. With the exception of an unflattering cover of Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale"—and a few thuddingly self-important lyrical missteps, like "Why do so many races fight while our children play?"—Precious is buoyed instead of burdened by its reflection of its forebears. Gnecco goes a long way toward finding his own vocal identity here, tempering the Buckley-esque histrionics of "Broken" with distinct, dynamic songs like "If Flowers Turn," "Disaster In A Halo," and "Leaves," which overcomes its aforementioned concern for racial violence and the children with irresistible choruses and a beautiful guitar line. An enormously promising sophomore sleeper, Precious finds Gnecco and his band parlaying their impeccable taste in influences into a sound of their own. The more they wipe those influences off their sleeves, the sooner they'll find greatness to match their ambition. On Precious, the revelation is in how close they come.