Independent/Ashmont Records - 2003 - 37 minutes

On first listen, the Pernice Brothers' third album sounds happy and upbeat but - like the other two - delve a little deeper and you'll unearth a very different beast. While there's no life-hating statements on 'Yours, Mine & Ours', Joe Pernice still retains his trademark blend of introspective - some might say depressive - songwriting coupled with the sweetest pop melodies.

Instantly catchy opening track 'The Weakest Shade of Blue' is a statement of intent, all jangly guitars and tight harmonies while Pernice sings of being "as lonely as the Irish sea" and of a love that is both "ruinous and true". Blessed with a voice that could make the phone book sound melancholy, he infuses cryptic narratives of obsession, loss and bitterness with a beauty and sincerity that (mostly) takes the sting from his words. But not always. Closer 'Number Two', a vicious revisiting of a song that formerly appeared on a limited edition tour EP, pulls no punches: "so take this, my back-stabbing pay back number".

With references that range from the sometimes ridiculous (David Essex) to the sublime (the biblical story of King Solomon, Judy Garland in 'The Wizard of Oz' - "she fills the screen/ruby and emerald green") Pernice gives critics and listeners alike the option of interpreting songs any which way they want. In the time since the unvarnished country of his Scud Mountain Boys days, his songwriting has gathered layers and depth, the craftsmanship more evident with each album released.

Taking his words and giving them wings are the rest of the Brothers, long-time collaborators all, from producer Thom Monaghan to actual brother Bob Pernice, drummer Mike Belitsky (The Sadies), Laura Stein on keyboards and New Radiant Storm King's Peyton Pinkerton, responsible for the New Order-ish guitar lines, especially evident on 'Sometimes I Remember'.

This one's a grower - take some time out to wrap yourself inside your headphones and puzzle out the meanings of life, Pernice style.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: The Weakest Shade of Blue - Water Ban - One Foot in the Grave - Baby in Two - Blinded by the Stars - Waiting for the Universe - Judy - Sometimes I Remember - How to Live Alone - Number Two