The Pernice Brothers - Live A Little
"Steady as she goes" should be the motto of the Pernice Brothers. Having crafted four, rather lovely studio albums, their fifth effort sees them shifting their outlook just a little, changing the ingredients of their sugary-sweet mix just enough to keep you interested without losing sight of what their good at.
Like Belle & Sebastian, the Pernice Brothers have made their career from not altering their formula too much - their sweet harmonies, delicate indie-pop arrangements and Joe Pernice's bittersweet lyrics which seem to deal with dark and light, hope and loss in equal measures are all here in large doses. Live A Little sees them changing their musical make-up just a touch, bolstering their sound, whilst leaving their ear for a tune and eloquent lyrics in place.
Cruelty To Animals has a positively rock 'n roll intro, a thrashy guitar riff which may have a hint of Coldplay about it, then Joe Pernice's breathlessly high vocals float in and it's the Brothers you all know and love. Microscopic View also has an air of something a little different about it, a touch of hammond organ and delicate strings with simple percussion suck you in until the band kick in with a nice Beatles-esque guitar riff. Their homage to the novelist B.S. Johnson is a beautiful ballad of sorts, epic strings and guitars sound upbeat and wouldn't have sounded out of place from Yours, Mine & Ours, this is proof that they don't just write music about love and loss, the clever lyrics "There will be no form for you" linking the early life of Johnson to his contemporary writing style as a novelist is a treat. This is pop music with a brain.
However, where these songs in the past might have struggled to make an impression on the listener, sometimes the Pernice Brothers songs just need a little edge, something to mix it up a bit, this record has it. There's more muscle here, the production still has the sheen that comes with a Pernice Brother's record, but there's a little more in the arrangements that augments proceedings and better involves the listener. It may not reach the same lyrical and musical highs as, say, Yours, Mine & Ours but this is another high point in their impressive career so far.