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Wistfulness and winsomeness aren’t qualities totally lost to ’90s rock, as a number of tweecentric indie labels—not to mention Lightning Seeds—have stubbornly made clear. Dizzy Heights, singer/songwriter/producer Ian Broudie’s fourth album under the moniker, further refines his attempts to meld There Are But Four Small Faces and the Pet Shop Boys. Predictably ravishing on their surface, the results can also claim quite a lot of bite, snippiness, and even sorrow. “Imaginary Friends” spews more believable Ray Davies-style bile than other contemporary competitors have mustered, while “Sugar Coated Iceberg” is a sneering appraisal of the pop scene that only an indignant true believer could manage. “Waiting for Today to Happen,” co-written with Nicky Wire, seems at least partly informed by the disappearance of Wire’s fellow Manic Street Preacher Richey James. Broudie proves solely responsible for the most affecting moment here, “Touch and Go.” Both a celebration of friendship and a lament for those who have drifted into other lives, the song is a perfect tribute to former New Wavers who’ve long since left behind childish things—i.e., college and its shifting allegiances—for office jobs. That our emotional tour guide was born to be a light-handed chronicler of loss, innocence, and lost innocence is further underscored by the ambivalent tone of his karaoke turn at the Turtles’ “You Showed Me,” but “Touch and Go” sits at the real heart of Dizzy Heights.

—Rickey Wright