San Fermin: Jackrabbit

Brooklyn crew masters highbrow chamber pop, but could use a little more edge

Credit: Denny Renshaw

Note to Lincoln Center: When you need a coming-of-age opera about Brooklyn strivers, Ellis Ludwig-Leone is your man. His orchestral-pop project San Fermin is the latest entrant to the new music economy where artists simultaneously court rock-club crowds and commission-granting art institutions, right there with Sufjan Stevens, Dirty Projectors and the National. On San Fermin's second LP, Ludwig-Leone channels quarter-life existentialism through sophisticated wind and string compositions, with extended-technique brass ("The Woods"), old-timey fiddle ("Parasites"), odd-metered beats ("Philosopher") and flamboyant choral bits ("Two Scenes"). Tag-team singers Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate flaunt killer instruments, though their performances can want for drama — Wagnerian, Aaliyah-ian, whatever. On the title track, Kaye sings, "Wanna live like an animal"; you might end up wishing that she'd sing more like one.