Hapless is a new collection of songs by Chris Arduser respectfully dedicated to luckless women and unfortunate men. Strewn with teen beats, growling basses, off color guitars, jangling strings, groovy guest star girl singers and more Mellotrons than you can shake a stick at! Dire contemplations of life on earth as well as depictions of nightclub so sad and seedy no fiction was required! All of the above and reversible cover art! 'Arduser's third release, 'Hapless,' is easily his best, thanks to a seamless batch of smart pop songs, high-end production values, and a wonderful mix of shiny, happy melodies that counter dark, twisted lyrics. It's a sophisticated disc that takes what he learned on his first two solo outings - 'Hostage' and 'Celebrity Motorcade' - and leaps forward. The most apt comparison is to the later works of XTC, with layered arrangements, crafty writing, and a sense that each song has something new to reveal each time you hear it. Arduser is a talented multi-instrumentalist, but he fleshes 'Hapless' out with musicians like Rob Fetters and Bob Nyswonger, both of the 'dots and the Bears, and George Cunningham, another Sylvania expat living in Cincinnati. The diversity of sound they provide augments the tunes and gives the sad barfly lament of 'Poor Suzette' a good hard kick and takes the avant pop of 'Washing My Conscience Clean' into another realm. The disc's strongest cut is 'Everything,' a soaring, uber-catchy soul-pop song that perfectly captures the frustrations of a man who just might break out of his emotional shell. But, then again, maybe he won't. That kind of paradox is at the heart of 'Hapless.' Arduser is hitting his stride, and here's hoping that he keeps at it for a long time. - ROD LOCKWOOD/toledo blade 'Exquisite. Hook-filled pop.' - RICK BIRD/Cincinnati Post.