Some songwriters see a full moon and swell with wonder at the power of love to make a distant, pockmarked satellite look like the perfect getaway. Other songwriters stand on the cold lunar surface waiting for the solar wind to end their exile. If the latter seems more capital-R romantic to you -- and who says romance is always gibbous? -- you have probably already embraced the droll canon of Joe Pernice. The further Pernice has strayed from the grainy, wry Bread updates of his former band Scud Mountain Boys, the more resistant to gravity his albums have become, jettisoning earthbound strumming in favor of retro atmosphere. Discover a Lovelier You
clicks and pings like an Apollo instrument panel, with the production (by Pernice and longtime collaborator Thom Monahan) emphasizing "Telstar" compression, luminous electric-guitar chords and neatly stacked vocal harmonies that complement Pernice's sleepy tenor. "There Goes the Sun" recalls the Chills' serrated elegy "Pink Frost," and the instrumental title track glows like an irradiated Shadows number. The gentle, bygone tunefulness of Lovelier
's melodies is transporting, whether Pernice's lyrics -- sometimes ironic, sometimes optimistic as only the hopeless can be -- are pointed at blue sky or black void.