Jim Noir, ‘Jim Noir’ (Barsuk)
Wild-eyed Alan Roberts — a.k.a. Jim Noir — belongs to the mad-scientist school of pop, concocting intricate epics that create a sense of intense claustrophobia. His sophomore outing (which tells the story of an ill-fated astronaut) sports a looser feel than his ’60s-obsessed debut, Tower of Love, adding slightly funkier grooves and hints of electronica to the mix — though the layered, cascading voices still recall Brian Wilson at his nuttiest. Hummable toe-tappers such as “Happy Day Today” are sweetly treacherous psychedelia, pretending to offer pleasant escape while oozing toxic unease.