Ted Leo has jittery energy, contrarian wit, and crackling intelligence. That might be what can make the vegan, lapsed-Catholic, Jersey-boy, pop-punk idealist sound like Elvis Costello and Paul Weller at times.
Leo just released a new solo record, “The Hanged Man,” after a long hiatus. On it, there’s a beautiful heartbreaking song about continuing to struggle into one’s 40s called “Used to Believe.” There are songs that address urban flight, childhood trauma, and one that seems to be about watching a futuristic earthly apocalypse from the vantage point of the moon.
Leo recently moved to Providence, Rhode Island, after living in New York City for years. And he’s been outspoken about the frustration of having to leave a city one loves because one can’t afford it on an artist’s income.
There are lovely sad brooding moments like “William Weld in the 21st Century,” that make one eager to hear what Leo — an outspoken politically minded guy — will eventually come up with to address the current American political nightmare.
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists perform at Ballroom at the Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, on Friday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. 203-288-6400, theouterspace.net