Praising a new record from The Pernice Brothers is a bit like marveling at a sunrise: It's a wonder, but easy to take for granted. Anyone familiar with the preternaturally melodic sensibilities of band front man Joe Pernice knows that he's incapable of producing anything other than irresistible ear candy. The group's latest offering, "Live a Little," is no exception.
Reunited with producer Michael Deming, The Pernice Brothers sound a little rougher around the edges, particularly on more rock-friendly fare such as "Automaton" and "B.S. Johnson." Pernice's whispery falsetto belies intelligent, often caustic lyrics that transform "Cruelty to Animals" and "Microscopic View" into small epiphanies. From the sun-dappled "PCH One" to the jangle of "Somerville," the band winds its way through an amusement park of luminous hooks and harmonies. "I was half my customary 48 percent," Pernice croons on one song. Don't believe it.
This guy wouldn't even know how to phone it in.
- H. Barry Zimmerman