A Perfect Day
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
A Perfect Day is a statement, and an album, that can be both sarcastic and sincere. Just in time for spring, Bob Schneider’s latest effort is at times breezy as well as melancholy, biting as well as laugh-out-loud funny. The opening track, “Let the Light In,” with its playful steel drum percussion, urges one to stay positive: “It’s been so long since you didn’t feel bad/Not spending all the time making people feel sad.” But the way Schneider delivers the lines of his extended Wizard of Oz metaphor during this song is filled with hesitance, sounding like someone hoping not to jinx whatever changes he’s observing.
It’s this laid back delivery that is Schneider’s strength. It works on “Penelope Cruz,” which is whimsical one line—“I want to make a baby with Elizabeth Taylor around 1957”—and poignant the next—“Because my whole life seems like a waste of time.” These statements, ridiculous and perhaps a little sappy, are somehow swallowable thanks to Schneider, if only barely.
And then there are the handclaps. Schneider loves handclaps, and he uses them best on “Everything is Cool,” this most natural form of percussion picking the intensity of a solitary electric piano riff. His vocals slightly distorted, Schneider begins the slow build of the song, singing, “As I lay here, hardly sleeping/And I listen to you breathing/I have waited so long for someone like you.” Then come those handclaps, signaling it’s time for Schneider to begin to spit out rapid-fire couplets and for the song to rock ‘n’ roll its way to its simple conclusion: “We get together/Everything is cool/It’s cool.”
Schneider isn’t afraid to just let it loose, either. “Am I Missing Something?” and “Another Bad Idea” prominently feature horn blasts, the former disco-like in tone. Yet the album ends as it began, with a note of apprehension and hesitation. This time, though, it’s completely comical. “Hand Me Back My Life” is a tale of a Russian mobster’s wife and missing passports with Schneider slowly realizing he has been duped. This is his final lesson: on a day like this, don’t take yourself too seriously.