Barzin’s much anticipated third full-length album is analgesic, narcoleptic and offers the warmest kind of apathy for those with broken hearts and tattered emotions. Filled with mellow, downtempo folk-pop with a hint of country, Notes to an Absent Lover is essential listening. While Barzin keeps the overall sound simple and minimalist, the album has many textures, as he diffuses vibraphone, cello and viola throughout the work. Caught somewhere between the poetic sensitivity of Lou Reed and the downtrodden voice of Wilco, Barzin sings about what love looks like when it falls apart. While most of the lyrics and themes are tied to the vulnerability of an individual who has failed in love, it gets a little aggressive and doubtful in “Look What Love Has Turned Us Into,” where he painfully howls “We’re strangers and we’re ugly / ‘Cause we’ve lost so very much.” With Barzin comparing love to a dream song and describing it as “tangled in blue,” Notes showcases a complexity of raw emotion; mingling regret, loss and everlasting frustration. It would seem that Beck’s 2002 album Sea Change can now step down as the reigning break-up album.