As part of the long-running band Imperial Teen, Will Schwartz has an outlet for writing and playing uptempo pop-punk, but in the long stretches when the band is inactive, he branches out and tries out different styles. His 2008 collaboration with Tussle's Tomo Yasuda as Hey Willpower was an energetic take on R&B that sounded like a weird mix of Gary Wilson and L'Trimm. Psychic Friend takes a very different route, as Schwartz gets behind a piano to crank out ten songs that tread happily on Todd Rundgren/Harry Nilsson territory with a jolt of New Pornographers-style energy to keep things hopping. Schwartz and his collaborator, multi-instrumentalist/producer Bo Boddie, create a sound that's rich and full, with piano as the main focus but plenty of other instrumentation to color in the songs and Schwartz's unaffected but strangely powerful vocals in the middle. He sings lyrics that sound intensely personal but not confessional, not drowning in self-absorption or melancholy. Importantly, the choruses are easy to sing along with and the melodies are lifted by the bouncy arrangements and peppy playing (with a special mention to drummers Patty Schemel and Tripp Beam). The ten songs fly by in a flash of hooks and memorable moments, sounding like tracksCarole King wishes she had written ("Water Sign") or A.C. Newman should steal ("The Kids Are OK"), and maybe some stuff that sounds only like Schwartz ("Once a Servant," "Shouldn't Have Tried Again"). While the basic template of the album is fairly consistent and satisfying, it's nice when Schwartz puts some extra oomph into the vocals, like on the insistent "Silent Show," and when he dials it down and gets little misty too ("Telekinesis"). No disrespect to his day-job band, but Schwartz sounds like he was made for this kind of pure pop for smart people with warm hearts and a love for piano songs that tenderly bounce and sway. Hopefully he will continue to work with Boddie and keep investigating this style to its fullest.