The Rural Alberta Advantage, ‘Departing’ (Saddle Creek)
It’s intriguing when Jeff Mangum sound-alike Nils Edenloff opens his art-folk band’s scrappy yet diverse second album with a promise to hold on so tight that he’ll crush his lover’s veins. Perhaps, one imagines for a moment, Edenloff might be that rare songwriting quantity: a faithful chronicler of the beautifully bizarre. But there’s a nagging, rote quality to his depictions of countryside geography, portentous weather, and flickering romances. Standouts like “Barnes’ Yard” and “North Star” deliver frank melodies with a shimmy, but Edenloff’s lyrics never consistently elevate them past promising, fanciful anonymity.