Live a Little
Every two years or so, the Pernice Brothers deliver yet another mini-classic that promises to enthrall serious pop-rock enthusiasts everywhere. Like clockwork, you could almost bet your mortgage on the consistency of Joe Pernice and co.
Unlike its predecessor, Discover a Lovelier You, Live a Little eschews the (forced and trendy) allusions to the 80s new wave (basically New Order) and marks a welcome return to pop classicism.
That said, the album does take a little time to get going with “Zero Refills” – the fourth track – registering as one of the best songs to come out of Joe Pernice’s fecund creativity as it melds Brian Wilson keyboards, 70s pop-rock guitar histrionics and Hall & Oates soulful strings.
“Microscopic View” offers a backward glimpse at a chamber pop innocence that announced the arrival of the Pernice Brothers’ debut, Overcome by Happiness, “How Can I Compare” continues in this orchestral vein, with the rustic romanticism of Alex Chilton thrown in for good measure and the spellbinding “High As A Kite” with its Spectoresque majesty and hints of 60s Bee Gees, heightening its beauty.
Elsewhere, the breezy folk-rock simplicity of “Somerville,” “PCH One,” “Conscience Clean (I Went To Spain”) and “Lightheaded” all suggest the echo of Teenage Fanclub, as Beatlesque melodies blend with Big Star melancholic vulnerability.
Which leaves us with the closing ballad – “Grudge Fuck (2006)” – with the choral lyrics borrowed from classic Bread songs viz. “Make It With You”& “Everything I Own” (yes, Joe, I noticed) – as the singer pleads for one last roll in the hay, for the road, so to speak. Isn’t that what the best pop ballads have been about, from time memorial?
Whilst not rising fully to the early Pernice Brothers albums or even Chappaquiddick Skyline, Live a Little comes pretty close to reminding all pop fans of the immense talent that is Joe Pernice. A