Ted Leo And The Pharmicists

Living With The Living

[4/5] Ah, the difficult fourth album-pharmacist Ted Leo, drummer Chris Wilson and bassist Dave Lerner continue the drive for a pop that is ultimately punk. Still informed by melodic Brit outfits like the Jam and Stiff Little Fingers, Living With The Living takes steps back to New Jersey, with the sort of big rock ’n’ roll, free of subcultural claim, that’d make the Boss proud (“Army Bound,” “The World Stops Turning”). Living’s most memorable moments, however, come when the band break from the standard format. “The Unwanted Things” nods to early reggae (invoking Foregone Conclusion’s “Equality Street”), while the frenzied, Thin Lizzy-esque “The Sons Of Cain” demands repeat plays and sing-alongs. From the massive “Annunciation Day/Born On Christmas Day” (think an electrified Pogues), to the acoustic nostalgia of “A Bottle Of Buckie” and the infectious tell-all of “C.I.A.” (“Only you know what you’ve done,” sings Leo), the Pharmacist camp proves relevant and in fine form. (TOUCH AND GO) Mike McKee