"I am the greatest motherfucker that you're ever gonna meet," assures singer John Grant early in his excellent new album, Pale Green Ghosts. He doesn't get any more humble or less bossy from there — "So go ahead and love me while it's still a crime/And don't forget you could be laughing 65 percent more of the time" — but you'll have to forgive him. Grant, formerly of the Czars, has turned a litany of ugly confessions and comically stern asides into a stunning catharsis. Set to spare electronic beats and/or dense, swirling chamber-folk, Grant's instrumental palette is almost as imposing as his endlessly deep baritone. And given the album's utterly bleak themes — drug addiction, being HIV positive — Grant gets extra points for any and all deadpan wittiness.