By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Next week these U.K. indie-pop wimps set out on a North American tour with James Blunt, the former Kosovo peacekeeper who surprised the world by proving that it's possible to be more insufferable than David Gray. Trés savvy: Nothing makes tunes called "Warm Panda Cola" and "God Takes Care of the Little Things" sound less puke worthy than ones titled "You're Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover."
On The Best Party Ever, their debut (out since 2005 in England, but due here next month), the Boy Least Likely To come off as the boys most likely to replace Belle and Sebastian in the hearts of frail indie folk for whom Belle's recent diversion into swinging T. Rex glam-boogie constituted treason. Like Stuart Murdoch, singer Jof Owen tempers his hothouse melodrama with crucial wisps of black comedy; in "Fur Soft as Fur" he celebrates "fresh strawberries and cream" before admitting, "Sometimes at work I feel like a machine."
Owen's multi-instrumentalist partner Pete Hobbs helps keep the train out of the ditch too. He laces "Sleeping With a Gun Under My Pillow" with tumbling-tumbleweed slide guitar, and makes a jubilant Fisher-Price fiesta out of "I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Star." Best party ever? Hardly. Best pity party ever? Maybe.
The Boy Least Likely To play Webster Hall March 14-15.