I was brainwashed by the Meanest Man Contest last year. Obsessed, really. My psychotherapist prescribed ragtime music, which was supposed to squander a relapse, should more tracks be manufactured.

All I can say is that it was a wonderful few months, but the fuckin’ ragtime sucked. With Merit, matured producer Quarterbar lays down 14 simply constructed, yet emotionally complicated foundations for Eriksolo’s abstract vocal mastery. The short beats are distant, inquisitive and mysterious, with distorted drums, crashing cymbals and prominent bass, not unlike Boom Bip’s latest release. Tracks like “Pirate Style” and the indie rock-induced “So Glad” have redeeming qualities; others, such as “Alive in Sweet Bad Times,” are paranoid. The only downfall is that Eriksolo appears merely twice during the 37-minute collage.

MMC’s best work lies at the bottom half of the album, where “Knock Knock” re-enamors listeners with a guitar orchestra, setting up Merit’s gem. If you forgot he existed during his almost 20-minute hiatus, you might never forget Eriksolo on his final appearance of the release.

Every now and then a song emerges that makes you look at life a bit differently. Some people join the Taliban, others Greenpeace. Some fall in between those extremes. “The Most Intrusive Places” begins with an echoed, hypnotized Eriksolo portraying confidently muddled thoughts. His clearing of the throat enables his words to gracefully coincide with one of Quarterbar’s many beat shifts. Meanest Man’s strongest track leaves you bewildered, insecure with your insecurities and with the growing realization: Obsession can be a good thing.

[Mr. Bell’s shortest review to date is due to his new medication to treat his OCD… OCD… d… d… d]