May 11, 2005 at 12:00 am

Dimmer. is a gorgeous arc of restrained pop shaded with burnt sienna guitars and subtle wisps of percussion, strings and soft electronics. A Brit living in Chicago, Elkington got assists from some of the city’s finest for Dimmer. The record was recorded with ex-Coctails Barry Phipps and Mark Greenberg; Nathaniel Braddock (guitars; Ancient Greeks), Nick Macri (bass; Euphone) and Jason Toth (drums; Fruit Bats) appear in support; and the backing vocals of Freakwater’s Janet Bean on “Sunday Morning” are prettier than fine porcelain. Insistent minor chords and waves of string effects bring a weary romanticism to “Breathe in the Disease,” while “Bad Shepherds” is gentle soft rock with a yen for Scott Walker. The moody instrumental “Colt’s Tooth” comes out of Chicago’s indie rock canon. It’s brief, but its hypnotic drift could easily take a lengthy trip into Tortoise waters. Dimmer. is a nice, comforting ride. Elkington gets a little deadpan sometimes, so you know it’s not all coldwater flats and crumpled cigarettes. But his songs are made with such care that they evoke such moments with ease. An album released in the spring that sounds like the fall, Dimmer. is a little jewel of ace musicianship and quiet songcraft.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].