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A Gorgeous, Thinking-Man's Pop Song

Joe Pernice has been making warm, catchy pop since the demise of his band Scud Mountain Boys.
Joe Pernice has been making warm, catchy pop since the demise of his band Scud Mountain Boys.

Baroque pop isn't exactly all the rage: With a few notable exceptions — Belle and Sebastian, Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel — practitioners of ornate indie-pop tend to be drowned out by louder, simpler contemporaries. Then there's Joe Pernice and his band The Pernice Brothers, who have been making warm, catchy, '70s-style pop records ever since the 1997 breakup of Pernice's alt-country group Scud Mountain Boys.

The Pernice Brothers' evolution from twang to orchestrated pop continues on a self-released sixth album, Live a Little. On it, the band creates sunshiny pop nuggets evoking the likes of Carole King, Bread, The Zombies and Brian Wilson. "Zero Refills," in particular, is a gorgeous thinking-man's pop song, seemingly torn from the catalog of Brian Wilson or Burt Bacharach.

First surfacing alongside an immediately engaging piano riff, Pernice's seductive vocals bring to mind the Young Rascals classic "How Can I Be Sure." Drummer Patrick Berkery's steady fills add a seductive pulse to the song, while the call-and-response chorus — "I've never given up on you" — stays etched in the memory within two bars. It's a wistful, melancholic moment of sheer pop bliss.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.