Tired Pony reveals its superstar ingredients in the first few minutes of the album-opener, “Northwestern Skies,” as the voice of Gary Lightbody—singer for UK superstar group Snow Patrol—quietly collides with Peter Buck’s mandolin, airlifted from R.E.M.’s Out Of Time. The supergroup, which also includes Belle & Sebastian’s Richard Colburn and guest turns from She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel and Editors’ Tom Smith, was Lightbody’s idea. He originally conceived of it as a country album, but casual fans of his main band won’t be able to tell the difference between Snow Patrol and Tired Pony on many of these songs: The massive “Get On The Road” sounds like a sequel to his main band’s “Set Fire To The Third Bar,” with Deschanel sitting in for Martha Wainwright, while the by-numbers “Dead American Writers” could pass for a Snow Patrol B-side. But Lightbody lets other singers take the reins a couple of times, to good effect: Iain Archer leads the folky, endearing “I Am The Landslide,” and Smith lends his Ian Curtis-like baritone to “The Good Book,” which feels like Nick Cave-lite. The whole enterprise should strike those who find Snow Patrol just a bit too mainstream nowadays as a step in the right direction—it’s unfussy and smaller in scale, but nearly always compelling.