That live-band limberness lingers on Yours, Mine & Ours, the Pernice Brothers' third effort--or fifth, if you count Pernice's side steps under his own name (Big Tobacco) and as Chappaquiddick Skyline, and you should. The group kiss-kiss-kisses the Cure on "Sometimes I Remember" and proudly wears the Psychedelic Furs they've long threatened to break out of the cedar closet (they even covered "Love My Way" on a single) on "One Foot in the Grave." (Makes sense that the working title for the disc was Pretty in Pinkerton.) Both songs didn't necessarily fit the menu before, but they're the special here, not the side dish. You get the point early on: "The Weakest Shade of Blue" bats leadoff, swinging away with grinning guitars and a rhythm that drives like a rogue cop, racing to a falsetto fadeout that might make Dennis and Carl Wilson turn over in their graves just so they can give a thumbs-up.
Of course, the populace of Pernice's poetry remains pent-up and pinned-down; he brightens up the scenery but doesn't bother to recast the play. Which is fine: Pernice, a songwriter as consistent and overlooked as Rafael Palmeiro's Hall of Fame career, is at his best when exploring life's quiet desperation and hidden heartaches. His lyrics are littered with people "as lonely as the Irish sea" ("The Weakest Shade of Blue"), "amateurs...waiting for the universe to die" ("Waiting for the Universe"), misanthropes whose correspondence includes such kiss-offs as, "I hope this letter finds you crying/It would feel so good to see you cry" ("How to Live Alone"). This time around, however, Pernice and the band figure it might feel just as good to see someone smile, if only for a moment.