Swedish golden boy troubadour José González's sophomore effort, In Our Nature, due to be released Sept. 25, takes a hard look at the costs of success while trying to shake off some of the inevitable Nick Drake comparisons. Gone is the easy sheen of 2003's Veneer with its slow ballads and sweet Kylie Minogue cover; on album opener "How Low," González talks of hustlers and becoming a monster "in shit up to your knees," signaling that if we were looking for an album of easy comforts, we've come to the wrong place.
Given the amount of critical praise deservedly heaped on González for the excellent Veneer, it's inevitable that In Our Nature will suffer a touch in its wake. "Killing for Love" is vague in an interesting way (is he playing with the idea of fundamentalists killing for God?), bolstered up by some fantastic acoustic guitar playing.
The second side fares far better than the first. Massive Attack cover "Teardrop" is a standout cut on this curious offering; González is most masterful when handling other artists' material. Because of the haunting lilt in so many of his best songs, one suspects he's in earnest even when he may well be taking the piss.
Less immediate than its predecessor, even slightly jarring at times, In Our Nature clocks in at under 33 minutes; only its brevity and slight samey-soundingness can be pointed out as shortcomings. One somehow suspects that José González, a critical favorite with room to grow, is here to stay.