As someone who never fully embraced the quirky electronic indie pop of New York duo The Books, I didn’t know what to expect from “If,” the solo debut from band co-founder Paul de Jong. I know that I’m in the minority among critics when it comes to The Books, but I never particularly enjoyed the music de Jong and pal Nick Zammuto made over the course of four albums.
Much to my surprise, I find myself enjoying — if not out-and-out adoring — “If.” It’s an off-kilter gathering of 12 tunes much in the vein of his work with The Books but I find it far more palatable. De Jong soars on keepers like “Auction Block,” “Hollywald,” “Debt Free,” “Age of the Sea” and “Purpose,” which offset occasional misfires “This Is Who I Am” ad “The Art of What.”
Maybe I need to revisit the albums he made with Zammuto. Because if I find “If” to be a first-rate listen, maybe I’m now better equipped to appreciate what they were doing in The Books. (Jeffrey Sisk)