Not Quite ?5678?: Don?t call Seltmann?s the remainder of The Reminder.

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Since mentioning it is pretty much unavoidable, let’s get this out of the way now: Sally Seltmann co-wrote Feist’s “1234.” And while the two singers share some affinities—if they didn’t, the song wouldn’t hold together so well, and may not have even happened in the first place—it’s a mistake to view Heart That’s Pounding as the remainder of Feist’s The Reminder. What’s maybe more surprising is that, with the exception of “Set Me Free” (a jaunty shuffle with a ragged, familiar-sounding choir and happy banjo), Seltmann distinguishes herself here not only from Feist but from her own recorded history. Perhaps befitting Seltmann’s first album bearing her given name, Heart That’s Pounding is less knotty than the fractured, sideways angle on DIY songcraft that she explored over the past decade as New Buffalo. The album is also a huge leap forward: It turns out that once Seltmann stops sounding like she’s trapped in her own head, her material sparkles with individuality, even at its most derivative. From its beat to the wordless vocal providing its hook, “Dream about Changing” at first seems like a rehash of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” (itself a Four Seasons pastiche), but it’s positively joyous, all the more so thanks to the sweet and guileless way Seltmann repeats the line “I’m a little bit shy.” And from its heartbeat drum on, the Concretes-like “Harmony to My Heart” wears its Phil Spector proudly, albeit with a vocal that’s worlds from the Ronettes’ teenage dreams. That’s not to say that Seltmann’s abandoned sonic experimentation entirely. “Sentimental Seeker” largely inhabits the sound that Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown trying to chase; Seltmann was lucky to be born into an era where it’s entirely at her fingertips. On “I Tossed a Coin,” she plays the electric piano like a toy one, the high register nudging the snaky melody just out of her range (though it’s no less effective for it); the song then blossoms into a dusky doo-wop ballad so quickly and thoroughly that it seems to happen in time-lapse. Every now and then, Seltmann’s Australian accent curls around a word or phrase, as with the line “When I’m sad and lonely” from “Sentimental Seeker.” It’s an idiosyncrasy that adds character,. Something similar happens on “5 Stars,” a light pop ballad with a delicate melody. Right in the middle of singing “I’ll raise my glass to the concept of understanding who I am,” she suddenly and inevitably places an accent on that normally unstressed “-ding,” adding tension to what is otherwise a simple ascending scale. That’s Seltmann’s gift on Heart That’s Pounding: She takes the most basic elements of popcraft and leaves no clue where she’s going with them.