Too pretty

Don’t panic if you think there’s something incredibly familiar with Archer Prewitt’s third solo album, Three.

It’s not just the sunny, meticulously crafted pop songcraft. It’s not just the obvious 70s influences of the Bee Gees and Burt Bacharach.

If Prewitt’s Three should remind you of anything, think Let It Come Down by fellow Chicago resident James Iha.

Iha’s out-of-print solo album recorded ca. 1998 channels into the same creative A.M. frequency as Prewitt. Both albums sport some pleasant, 70s-styled songwriting delivered with a languidity bordering on lethargic.

Prewitt and Iha are such unassuming frontmen, they just can’t get too excited about the beauty of their own work.

But that modesty works to a point — instead of hitting listeners over the head with dazzling vocal acrobatics, Prewitt allows subtlety to seduce.

It’s hard to dislike this album.

Even without the dashes of horns and flutes and strings and sweet female vocals on such tracks as “Two Can Play”, “I’m Coming Over”, “Gifts of Love” and “Second Time Trader”, these songs hold their own when it comes to hooks and melodies. A case could almost be made for stripping away these flourishes.

At the same time, it’s hard to get incredibly enthusiastic about this album either.

Three is so painstakingly sculpted, so decidedly modest, it leaves a nice impression that doesn’t linger long enough after it’s ended. Some of the album’s first half — “Over the Line”, “I’m Coming Over”, “Behind Your Sun” — have nice dissonant touches that make them stand out.

For the moment the album is playing through a set of speakers, Three speaks well for itself. But it doesn’t cross the line where that seductive subtlety makes a listener crave it again and again.