Some of you may know Dave Derby as the voice of the criminally underappreciated Nineties altrockers Dambuilders. After that Boston quartet split in 1998, the singer/multi-instrumentalist spent a couple of years pursuing his solo muse under the moniker Brilliantine -- a loose collective of musicians that included Lloyd Cole, Ivy's Dominique Durand, Small Factory drummer Phoebe Summersquash, and more -- as well as joining Cole's band the Negatives. Now Derby has finally slapped his own name on an album, the drolly titled Even Further Behind, and this long-deferred "proper" introduction is an excellent way to catch up with a guy who continues to craft smart and immensely appealing indie-pop songs.
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Along with a cast of characters that includes former Dambuilders Joan Wasser and Kevin March, onetime Ruth Ruth guitarist Michael Kotch, Jill Sobule, Varnaline's Jud Ehrbar, and Vitamin C, Derby creates a mood that's equal parts bittersweet and ebullient. He certainly doesn't shy away from addressing the professional and personal disappointments that have marked his journey to date. "Once I was in love with my one true love/I don't think I'll ever feel that again," Derby laments on the delicately paced "The Dream is Over" amid weepy lap-steel and plaintively strummed acoustic guitars, reminiscent of Mojave 3's Neil Halstead. Likewise, on the ambling, Lennon-esque "Still Bored," he sings, "The hopes that we had then/Were hung out to dry." Conversely, "California Nervous Breakdown" defies its glum title with its bright, infectious, Seventies FM radio jangle, while the spry "Cigarette Cowboy" closes out the set in sweet, upbeat fashion. Pleased to meet you again, Dave.