The Pernice Brothers

Discover a Lovelier You
(Ashmont Records)

Having flown from dusty alt-country to the land of orchestral pop plenty with 1998's Overcome by Happiness, Joe Pernice is no stranger to spontaneous relocation. On Discover a Lovelier You, however, the Holbrook, Massachusetts, songwriter just moves to a different room in the same apartment. In spots -- notably the airily grooveful "My So-Called Celibate Life" -- strings are traded in for a frosty electronic undertone, as tasteful as anything Pernice has brushed with his delicate pop, though closer to New Order than baroque '60s gardeners like the Left Banke. But as ever, the melodies are bejeweled and the lyrics wearily romantic. "Dumb It Down" has the kind of bright jangle and ringy harmonies that turn pop-addicted frontal lobes to mush, while "Subject Drop," a duet between an ex-couple from their respective beds, displays a literate touch that's lighter and more empathic than just about any current songwriter you'd care to name. Pernice has found his home -- if he wants to dance in the living room now and then, all the better.

 
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