After a few years spent quietly distributing CD-Rs of his basement-bred folk-pop, Bible college bad boy Jeremy Messersmith made his official debut last year with The Alcatraz Kid. With their rubber-soul melodies and corduroy melancholy, Messersmith's songs purr like Elliott Smith beset with plain-old sadness rather than dangerous despair. The album's first and premier song is called "Novocain," the irony being that it makes you feel. Both blue and bubbly, it's the sort of tune the word "lilting" longs to modify. Elsewhere Messersmith offers fragmentary narratives about unassuming dreamers and losers whose names are rarely remembered accurately. There's a science prodigy's forlorn waltz and a grown-up scientist's soft-voiced jeremiad. Underneath, Messersmith lays on a balm of canny melodies, 3:00 a.m. guitar strums, and bell-like electric piano. Is he writing the liveliest funeral dirge or the most melancholy coronation fanfare? Only Messersmith knows for sure.