The Band Perry's 'Pioneer' review: Clever country

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This CD cover image released by Republic Nashville

This CD cover image released by Republic Nashville shows "Pioneer," by The Band Perry. Photo Credit: AP

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The Band Perry isn't the same sweet gang that fretted about "If I Die Young" anymore. Now it's issuing murderous threats like "Better Dig Two."

Not only does The Band Perry -- singer-guitarist Kimberly Perry and her brothers, bassist Reid and drummer Neil -- sound more confident and accomplished on its sophomore album, "Pioneer" (Republic Nashville), but the group backs it up with stronger hooks and better lyrics.

Using "Better Dig Two" to launch "Pioneer" was a gamble, but it's paid off, topping the country charts with an angry defense of marriage vows, where Kimberly promises, "I'll go to heaven or I'll go to hell before I'll see you with someone else." And the "Pioneer" songs only get easier to sell after that, especially the title track, which compares a touring musician's traveling life to that of the early pioneers.

In case all those musical adventures don't make it clear enough, The Band Perry is out to stretch the boundaries of today's country music by injecting it with literary references and rock and pop influences. With "Done," the Perrys rip through an old boyfriend, with cutting lyrics, roaring country guitars and Kimberly's wild vocals that she punctuates with an "uhhh" that connotes disgust and rage. The strut of "I'm a Keeper" brings together Southern rock influences, boogie-woogie piano, Shania Twain sass and Linda Ronstadt country sweetness to build what will be one of the best songs this year. It's just another thing the Perrys plan to pioneer.


The Band Perry

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BOTTOM LINE Clever country that's as welcoming as home

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