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Baby Bird—aka Stephen Jones before his hiring of a full band to flesh out his “elaborate demos”—was an enigma even to many Anglophilic Americans until the recent one-two punch of The Greatest Hits and Ugly Beautiful. Hits, a low-priced double-CD collection of fan favorites from five U.K. albums that came out in less than a year, allowed some catching up with Jones’ crafty art before Atlantic issued UB, a second debut that boasts full production and should appeal to those enamored of the hyperromanticism of ’80s, er, Britpop. The Morrissey comparisons that’ve met Jones’ lines are a little overstated; though “We steal cars because we’re lazy,” from a song titled “Too Handsome to Be Homeless,” is pretty good, its edge is a little more blunt than is good for a pop genius. Still, the guy is talented and does carry a bag of wit to go with his melodic knack. “You & Me” spends a good bit of its four minutes repeating permutations of its title until Jones breaks down laughing. “Jesus Is My Girlfriend,” he claims, before assuming the persona of some karaoke clown, or perhaps it’s that of Michael Jackson on “45 & Fat” (as in “I’ll sing about love until I’m…”). The melancholic “Dead Bird Sings” is a standard-in-waiting if Jones’ publisher plays his cards right, but the game-ending stunner is “You’re Gorgeous,” a threatening declaration of adoration that managed to go Top 3 in Britain. Maybe he is that clever.

—Rickey Wright