New albums by Lloyd Cole and Joe Pernice
By Thomas Bond
October 20, 2006

Pop music is the province of youth. At least pop music in the sense of “popular,” as teens and twentysomethings rule the top 40 charts.

But for some folks, “pop” means memorable melodies, instrumental hooks that bore into your brain and lyrics that don’t float into the ether. Thankfully, there’s no age limit to making or enjoying it — as proven by two new albums by middle-aged singer/songwriters: “Antidepressant” by Lloyd Cole and “Live a Little” by the Pernice Brothers — Joe Pernice’s nom de group. Both are children of the 1960s, married with children, and their music speaks to those in similar circumstances.

Cole — 20-plus years into his musical career — leads off his new album with “The Young Idealists,” and has no love lost for his own generation: “Then we bought into the neocon economic dream and we were trading in futures we believed in.” Of course, the well-documented crash arrives and a lesson’s been learned: “Maybe now I’d take a future we can breathe in.”

While the lyrics read like sound bites from a cable news show, the trick is that Cole has put them to instantly accessible music and the words never sound pedantic. The rest of the disc muses on adult concerns such as depression, regret, love and loss with the weighty topics buoyed by the instrumental accompaniment.

“Live a Little” is Pernice’s fifth disc in an astonishing string of nearly-perfect pop albums under the Pernice Brothers moniker (Joe’s sibling Bob usually records, but doesn’t tour with the band). As with Cole, Pernice — who is scheduled to perform in the Valley with his group on Nov. 25 at Modified Arts — makes no attempt at hiding his age, rather his songs reflect it. “I’m sick of the cynical. I’m sick of the fashion show, the vapid and overblown” begins “Somerville,” but instead of dour music to match, the lyrical tartness is balanced by breezy and sweet accompaniment. “A spoonful of sugar …” one might say.

Elsewhere he sings “Some sleep the sleep of angels wrapped around somebody’s wife/Why should I compare? I have problems of my own.” Indeed.

Clearly, Cole and Pernice create pop music by adults for adults. Take that, kiddies!

Publication: Get Out

Publication date: 20/11/06