September 28, 1987 12:00 PM

Cock Robin

Far more literate than most of the strange birds who inhabit the pop music world, this duo—Peter Kingsbery and Anna LaCazio—has come up with a striking second album. Kingsbery, who grew up in Austin, Texas, writes with rare grace: “My excuse is only human/ Like any animal that breathes/ Just to find a scent that’s soothing/ I give you power over me.” He also is one of the few pop musicians around who’s likely to cite an influence who has never been on American Bandstand—in this case, Gustave Flaubert. Kingsbery says his Coward’s Courage was inspired by Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, though horror film devotees may be more inclined to remember The Wolf Man when they hear Kingsbery’s line, “Carry this for your own protection.” (Werewolf movie scholars will recall Lon Chaney Jr. reading a variation on the line when, just before heading for the woods, he gives Evelyn Ankers a charm that will protect her from his more furry self.) Kingsbery sings in tense though not unpleasant tones reminiscent of Jay Black (of Jay and the Americans); LaCazio, who hails from Carson, Calif., alternates with Kingsbery on lead vocals and provides a bit more warmth than is standard from young women rock singers these days. These two have spent time in Europe, and along with producer Don Gehman (John Cougar Mellencamp, R.E.M.) they give this album the kind of synthesizer buzz usually associated with British groups. That slightly detached sound fits their generally cerebral approach, though there are tracks to dance to, as well as think about, on this LP. It’s an intriguing package all around. (Columbia)

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