Live a Little, Love a Lot

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A fair criticism of the early '90s shoegaze scene was that most of the bands really didn't know how to play or sing. They could write good melodies, but what good are melodies when the vocalist has a short range? And just how many sets of ears prefer a wash of distortion to a tricky chord change? Since Moose were tagged as shoegazers for their first EPs, they immediately lost a good number of potential ears. That's really too bad, because any of the negative attributes associated with that style of band were never an issue with Moose to begin with. Just as important, Live a Little Love a Lot is where they truly came into their own, playing a variation of classic pop that any fan of the Byrds or Lee Hazlewood -- hell, the Byrds or Lee Hazlewood themselves -- can appreciate. With some new tricks up their sleeves like further use of strings and horns, along with reverential nods to the past (witness the sly "hoo-ha"s in "Poor Man," no doubt a wink to Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western film scores), Moose blow through 11 breezy acoustic pop songs. Easygoing and graceful but not lightweight or hollow, the only true fault with the record is the latter half's inability to break free from a slight case of apathy. It could have used a song with the pep of the opening "Play God" (featuring the Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser), or maybe some balance would have been achieved by placing the lively "Rubdown" (Handclaps? Horns? Bonus.) near the end of the sequence. So here's yet another fine band's third record, chucked mercilessly into the oldfart dustbin by the record store clerk and sniffed at.

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