The impressively résuméd indie-rock guitarist Jimmy LaValle--he's spent time with Tristeza, the Black Heart Procession and GoGoGo Airheart--has released a handful of iffy solo records as the Album Leaf, a name that's basically provided cover while he noodled in his bedroom like Enya in a denim jacket. To make In a Safe Place, his third full-length (and first for Sub Pop), LaValle wisely headed to a safe place: the studio in Iceland run by his buddies (and former tourmates) in Sigur Rós, the indie-rock Enyas it's OK to like. The change in location improved LaValle's music: Place, while no more saddled with direction or purpose than previous Album Leaf outings, wallows in a gorgeous haze of crisp guitar strum, warm keyboard hum and fractured digital beats. When Sigur singer Jon Thor Birgisson lends his singular croon to "Over the Pond," LaValle's useless beauty serves as its own reward.
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