Words for Living, the second effort from this Michigan native, is equal parts '80s synth-pop, dreamy Sgt. Peppers-era psychedelia, Neil Young romanticism and wise-ass, clod-hopping drum zaniness à la the Dust Brothers. It's like a bad acid trip gone good.
Olsson makes you drip with adulation over lines like, "I can read my eyelids and it seems to be your story/ Like someone wrote it long ago/ It took me up 'til now to know," from "Good Dream" (RealAudio excerpt). Then he makes you bristle with cringe-inducing zingers like "Sometimes I dream I am a whale/ Swimmin' in the deep blue sea/ My mind goes to the strangest places/ How can this be," from "Dandelion" (RealAudio excerpt). Love it or hate it, though, he draws a reaction.
Maybe Olsson is too daring in his experimentation drum & bass on a folk-rock tune is a little out there for casual listeners to grasp. That's a shame, because "Ready for a Fall" (RealAudio excerpt) is a simple, introspective hit just waiting to happen. Reminiscent of Young at his best, it sports an unforgettable melody augmented by whispering drums, an evocative acoustic guitar and lyrics straight from the heartbreak factory. "I can't believe/ You're the one for me," he sings. "If it was this easy to find you/ I should be ready for a fall." Awwwww!