The front cover for Benji Hughes' Merge debut features an oil painting-rendered photo of the hirsute, North Carolina-based pop purveyor sporting aviator sunglasses and vampire teeth. However, what lies inside is not the swampy, True Blood
-inspired cacophony of sultry, Southern gothic twang that Songs in the Key of Animals
' misanthropic cover art would suggest, but a breezy amalgamation of girl-crazed blue-eyed soul and Chateau Marmont bungalow pop that falls somewhere between Beck
, and Harry Nilsson
. "People are Animals," says Hughes in the album's press release, and he takes that notion quite literally on the two-disc, 11-track LP, applying his well-honed production skills and goofy sense of humor (this is the man who helped write the brilliant "Let's Duet" from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
) to a set of left-field pop confections with titles like "Shark Attack!!!!!!!!!!," "Zebra," and "Peacockin' Party."