No Good For No One Now

Feb 19, 2003 at 12:00 am

Mike Kinsella’s spent much of his life in the shadow of his older brother Tim, a founding member of emo pioneers Cap’n Jazz, and, with Mike, a part of American Football and Joan Of Arc. But in contrast to his self-consciously arty brother, Mike seems to have no qualms forging simple, unpretentious pop. With Owen’s second album, Mike Kinsella sets about establishing his own musical footprint and produces an album at least as enjoyable as anything his brother Tim has made in years. The gentle, unadorned acoustic guitar is plucked with gossamer delicacy, sounding almost harplike as it trails beneath these seven songs dedicated to disaffection and self-doubt. While five of the songs run more than five minutes, Kinsella’s compositions don’t strictly adhere to a verse-chorus-verse structure and as a result don’t seem particularly indulgent or padded. Nor is Kinsella apologetic about the presumed audience for his songs, singing unironically to “You, in the cardigan/Tired of all your friends/You, in love with the Cocteau Twins/Bored with your boyfriend,” on “Poor Souls.” The album’s centerpiece is the tender 10-minute album-closer, “Take Care of Yourself,” a ruminative paean to a departing girlfriend, which seems to absolve her of responsibility, while entreating her to stay. A markedly mature effort in more than one way, Owen’s No Good For No One Now is a standout bit of pop that lingers in the mind and heart like the dying embers of the passing day.

E-mail Chris Parker at [email protected].