Music review: Sean Nelson "Make Good Choices"

May 21, 2013 at 3:53 p.m. ET

Fifteen years after his band Harvey Danger took the U.S. by storm with their angst-filled alt-rock anthem "Flagpole Sitta," the band's front man, Sean Nelson, is on his own with his debut album "Make Good Choices."

Sean Nelson

“I had visions. I was in them. I was looking into the mirror…”

If you were listening to the radio, watching TV or going to the movies in 1998, chances are you can sing the rest of that song.

It was called “Flagpole Sitta” and it was by an until-then unknown Seattle band called Harvey Danger.

While the band released many more songs, none were as big as “Flagpole Sitta” and Harvey Danger sadly became a one-hit wonder.

Fifteen years later, Harvey Danger’s lead singer Sean Nelson is releasing his debut solo album titled Make Good Choices on June 4.

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The title track is a poppy, lyrically dense song about that oh-so-familiar feeling of a love that is better kept away. And even when your mind plays tricks on you, keeping separated is the best move.

The video features paper cutouts of Nelson building a snowman friend while he sings:
“A wise old man was once heard to say
the things that always cause us the most pain
all those for which we are always the least prepared to walk away
that's probably why I had you on the brain.”

By the end of the song, we're treated to the familiar angst-tinged passion combined with those relatable lyrics that made Harvey Danger so great.

Nelson sings, “When you're not here my heart rejoices. Don't come near me, make good choices.”

And boy, if that’s not something we can all relate to.

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The album’s second single, "Born Without a Heart," is a jangly alt-rock tune that focuses on mortality and the way we live our lives.

The song features Nelson’s falsetto voice crooning:
“The friends you knew and loved are gone.
You can’t depend on anyone.
We might be soldiers on a long march to the grave.
But we don’t have to live that way.”

There's a sense of optimism in these songs — as if he’s saying he knows there’s bad things we have to deal with, but it’s the human condition and we all have been or will be there too.

The album includes contributions from many of his alt-music friends including R.E.M.’s Peter Buck, Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, and Rachel Blumberg, formerly of the Decemberists.

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This is definitely one album to check out. NPR currently has the whole album streaming online and it's available to pre-order now before its June 4 release date.

Check out Sean Nelson’s “Make Good Choices” and tell us what you think in the comments below.

Sean Nelson "Make Good Choices" from Do it for the girls on Vimeo.

Photo credit: C. Smith/WENN

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