A dreamy gem that plays like Beth Orton meets Simon & Garfunkel, the debut full-length from U.K.

A dreamy gem that plays like Beth Orton meets Simon & Garfunkel, the debut full-length from U.K. weepsters Turin Brakes is, contrary to the title, anything but optimistic. "I panic at the quiet times," sings Olly Knights, one half of the guitar duo (the other half being Gale Paridjanian), on "The Door." It's one of several gorgeous moments on this collection of melancholy space-folk that has a bittersweet quality similar to R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People. The album is populated with notions of anxiety and a desire for escape via speeding cars on empty highways ("Feeling Oblivion") and soaring spaceships through night skies ("Future Boy," "Starship"). Of course, the act's haunted atmospherics and sensitive-boy crooning is all a bit precocious, but the results are so pretty that they're intoxicating just the same. Fans of such bands as Belle and Sebastian and Doves will find The Optimist LP tough to resist.—BG

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