Look at the cover to Aaron Peta’s debut disc, I’m Not A Hipster, with the New York-based singer/songwriter dressed in outsized sunglasses and a gleaming silver jumpsuit, and your first response is “Not a hipster? Truer words were never written.” This guy looks too nerdy to be allowed into Kraftwerk!
Look inside the booklet accompanying the CD, and you’ll see our hero striking a variety of pop/rock poses: sensitive singer/songwriter in his bathrobe, country musician, Lou Reed urbanite. It’s a modern take on Nick Lowe’s Pure Pop for Now People cover, and it’s wholly suited to Peta’s eclectic, if occasionally campy, style. Whether he’s indulging in Dylanesque spewing over a martial beat on ironic album opener “Your Songs Have No Form” or coming across like a constipated Stan Ridgeway in the synth-heavy “Super Sexy,” or just doing the sweet guitar-driven pop-rock thing on “Sandy Understand,” the results are endlessly replayable. At times, this disc sounds like a solo outing one of the alumni from a nineties band like Jellyfish or the Grays might’ve concocted — Jason Falkner, say — other times it’ll get you thinking of early Beck (check the title track).
If there’s any theme that recurs throughout the disc, it’s captured in the defensive posture of its title: more than one track (“Sexy,” “You You You”) concern the singer’s most likely futile attempts at breaking through a fellow urban dweller’s self-absorption. “Everywhere you go/everything you do/It’s always always always always about you,” he sing/chants in “You.” Yeah, this guy knows his boho music scene alright.
P.S. Skip the truly formless bonus instrumental, “Where We Are,” which is as irritating as the final track on the Beck’s Mellow Gold.