Australia's Sleepy Jackson was clearly adept at playing with its "sound" on 2004's "Lovers," but has chosen (wisely?) to take a clear-cut path on this new full-length.

Australia's Sleepy Jackson was clearly adept at playing with its "sound" on 2004's "Lovers," but has chosen (wisely?) to take a clear-cut path on this new full-length. The band itself is really the brainchild of eccentric songwriter Luke Steele, and "Personality" sees Steele's vision becoming much more grander, in presentation, as well as musically.

At first glance, you'd think the album is rife with religious motifs -- the album art is a collage of various spiritual imagery, culminating inside with a mock Last Supper. Upon closer inspection though, Steele muses on what he's done before -- romance -- but this time, its comes through in a context that reveals a guy who has seriously been hurt, and thinks about turning to a higher power for answers. But he ultimately realizes he's going to have to settle down here on Earth. It's hard to tell if Steele is speaking from experience or in the third person, but it's also hard to believe someone would want to make this stuff up.

Steele reconciles his aching heart with compositions that are heavy on orchestration -- straightforward guitar pop songs that are bolstered by heavy doses of string arrangements. Thus, listening to "Personality" is much like its extended title: soaring, whimsical and carefree but also downright full of evil. Let's hope next time around, some good fortune lands Luke's way. -- Michael D. Ayers