The symphonic pop creations of Brooklyn's The Silent League are the manifestation of Mercury Rev keyboardist Justin Russo's longtime solo fantasies. A member of the group for their acclaimed Deserter's Songs and All Is Dream (and a former member of Hopewell and Grand Mal), Russo was writing his own introspective pop songs all the while. Russo's fragile, meandering tenor often evokes Mercury Rev'sJonathan Donahue, and The Silent League shares The Rev's predilection for the sonically dense and the sweetly sinister, but eschews their swirling psych for an airy, precise, orchestral style that could work as a lounge band in the afterlife. The Silent League displays an uncanny pairing of musical virtuosity and skewed pop classicism on their outstanding debut album The Orchestra, Sadly, Has Refused, a combination which has already earned a few comparisons to the peculiar majesty of Todd Rundgren's peak years; certainly, the group's piano-centric brand of experimental balladry evokes any number of brilliant, progressive '70s-era sonic architects who pushed the envelope of what pop meant, themselves influenced by Tin Pan Alley, the last half of The Beatles' career and Brian Wilson's nervous breakdown years. All that's here and more: "The Catbird Seat" conjures all the eerie beauty and epic bombast of Pink Floyd but none of the self-indulgent wankery, while the sun-flecked "Glass Walls" compares favorably with Wayne Coyne's most intimately offbeat personal statements. Russo has established himself as a songwriter of the first order and in The Silent League he's assembled an eclectic band of professionals (including Sam Fogarino of Interpol, Mercury Rev'sGrasshopper, Grand Mal'sBill Whitten and Hopewell'sJason Russo, among others) who stand with the likes of Coyne'sFlaming Lips, Mercury Rev, The Polyphonic Spree, Super Furry Animals and other similarly minded ensembles. The Silent League have already won accolades for their terrific live show as well -- don't miss it when they come to your town.