Could Styrofoam – a one-man band fronted by Arne van Petegem – be trying to impersonate Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello? Maybe. Petegem does go postal service on about half of Nothing’s Lost, (2004, Morr Music) his fourth full-length album. He went completely virtual with Andrew Kenny (American Analog Set), who could not make it to Arne’s studio in Brussels. But the rest of the collaborators on this album initially received a few instrumental tracks to choose from, and they worked (in person) from there. With Nothing’s Lost, Petegem establishes himself as an electro-pop god, and Tamborello better watch out – Ben Gibbard is featured on a track as well. But that should be no surprise, as Gibbard has been handing over his musical services to more than just a few artists … what a pimp.

Though artist collaboration tracks comprise almost half of this album, Styrofoam’s work should not be overlooked. For one, as producer, songwriter, and singer, this album is genuinely a work of Petegem. And tracks like “Safe + Broken” exemplify this, with Arne murmuring “one two three four” gently amidst a buzzing background of electronically mixed sounds. Fortunately, has the kind of dreamy vocals that could put you to sleep.

“Misguided” is a great opening track – probably my favorite – showcasing this album’s hybrid qualities. Featuring Valerie Trebeljahr (Lali Puna), and Alias (anticon) on vocals, it is Alias’s rap in this track that makes us wish electro-hip-hop were more common. Contributing guitar tracks is Markus Acher of Lali Puna and The Notwist, a Morr Music artist as well. Though lyrics on this track are often unintelligible, we clearly hear Valerie sing on the chorus line “I still believe that if things could change then they change for the better.” These are uplifting words, though possibly misleading for a rather solemn track where Alias criticizes the state of suburbia.

“Ticket Out of Town” brings meaning to Petegem’s own alias, Styrofoam. The static background noises sound somewhat like styrofoam being squished. While most obvious in this track, these styrofoam noises can be observed more subtly in other tracks. “Couches in Alleys” is the hyped up track of the album with Gibbard providing vocals, yet with hype comes some merit. While Gibbard appears to sound quite robotic throughout the song, the instrumentation provides the fluctuations needed, and Gibbard’s natural melodic nature does come through.

“Front to Back,” another stand-out, features Kenny on vocals. As noted before, the production of this song was digital, with Arne and Andrew swapping files through iChat. Kenny delivers a surprising r&b style falsetto, unusual of him, but pleasant nonetheless. The community of musicians Petegem employs on this album is really impressive. Kenny and Gibbard have released a split together, and Styrofoam was a temporary member of Notwist during one of their tours. Alias has also been a supporting act for Lali Puna in the past. This array of artists provides many great directions to go as far as music recommendations go – such as the work of Alias or American Analog Set.

“Anything” is the definitive pop track on this album. It features Bent van Looy, frontman of another Belgian band “Das Pop.” It’s danceable and catchy, and includes a female voice, which is always nice. Japanese singer Miki provides complementary vocals to Looy’s, as they chant “I’ll tell you everything” to a background of a thumping retro-feel bass line.

Indie label Morr Music is awesome and you can listen to practically the whole album at its website,! So go and check out these tracks for yourself – music is best heard and not read about.