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Pernice Brothers 

Live a Little (Ashmont)

On this Western Massachusetts band's fifth LP, the group finally cements its status as the American Teenage Fanclub. Like that Scottish act, Joe Pernice and pals have released a disc that sounds pretty much like all their other ones, with each tune awash in impossibly catchy guitar hooks, lush keyboard parts, and the occasional handclap. Likewise, Pernice uses his usual soothingly sandpapery voice to offer bitter and confused lyrics, making the most disquieting details ("She believes what doesn't kill her/ Only takes more time to kill her") go down as smooth as Häagen Dazs. And while there's still a couple Elvis Costello moments in which Pernice jams so much characterization into three minutes that you need CliffsNotes to keep up (see "Microscopic View"), for the most part he embraces his inner editor, and his songs are the better for it. Also, the playing on "PCH One" and "Somerville" is so euphoric that it almost takes the sting out of his lyrics. Almost. — Dan Strachota


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