April 25, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

On the surface, the 11th album from Smog (more or less a solo project for Chicago-based Bill Callahan) sounds like a bid for accessibility — Supper downshifts smoothly from country rock to sloppy blues stomp to Velvets-y Sturm und Drang, and weaves together female harmonies and steel guitar. But look beyond the music — supplied by a variety of Chi-town-centric indie vets — to Callahan’s uncanny vocals, which are placed unusually high in the mix, lending an eerily detached air to his deadpan lyrics. It’s meaty stuff.

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