Harry James Credit: Nick Broste

New Jersey native Harry James Brenner found his footing in Chicago’s music scene partly by playing in art-rock group Chandeliers; he joined in the mid-aughts as a percussionist, and he’s since played keys for them too. The sharply defined clatter of Brenner’s drums has kept Chandeliers’ mercurial instincts from running away with them, giving even their most ostentatiously experimental escapades an irresistible groove. He’s also part of Chandeliers offshoot Songs for Gods, whose 2017 single “Boss” grafts mutant synth blurps and swooning R&B vocals onto a driving, workout-ready rhythm. On Brenner’s new solo debut, Buy the Numbers (Potions), he leaves behind art-rock and techno and instead draws from soul, jazz, ambient, and R&B, gently but thoroughly reimagining them. He builds tidy instrumentals from sometimes sparse but always comforting piano arrangements, tightened up with percussive latticework. His leisurely, soulful songs have a lived-in feel, and even their negative space has weight to it—which gives an outsize charge to the languid drumming on “Dapper.” If I didn’t know this album was brand-new, I’d swear it was one of those forgotten LPs that hip-hop producers keep secret while mining for the samples in their best tracks. Brenner’s songs often rely on a single mood or beat, but the magnetism they create—most notably on the heart-wrenching “Last Dance” and ruminative “Kid Icarus”—can last for their entire length.   v