A Perfect Day
Kirtland Records

Two years ago, Bob Schneider split the bull’s eye. The Austin-based songwriter’s “40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet),” a fluid masterwork from the otherwise scattershot Lovely Creatures, swiftly soared above early highpoints (“Metal and Steel,” “Captain Kirk”) to mark his singular apex. At least one Central Texas radio station still reminds listeners several times weekly. Schneider’s A Perfect Day has no equivalent standout. Not even close. Be grateful. Absent a spotlight stealer, this excellent collection shakes (“Peaches”) and snakes (“Honeypot”) with steady effervescence throughout. As always, Schneider doubles down on heart (“Let the Light In”) with humor (“Yeah, I’ll Do That”). He fortifies potent hooks (“Am I Missing Something”) with clever wordplay (“Funcake,” “Dirtmouth”), and deftly outlines his narratives with maturity. “Every day my dreams seem farther and farther away,” the 45-year-old declares unsentimentally as a positively cheery chorus brightens his weighty yearning (“Penelope Cruz”). That’s clearly key: sifting sunlight through shadows. At turns, Schneider confronts mortality directly — “God will destroy everything you love,” he allows nonchalantly on “Everything You Love,” “if you live long enough” — but a buoyant melody always counters. Schneider designed the approach purposefully. “The subject matter [in ‘Everything You Love’] is a little darker, but musically it’s still upbeat, happy,” he explained in mid-April on Austin’s KGSR 93.3 FM. “I like that dichotomy of the music being different than [the message].” Rare blemishes (“Everything Is Cool,” “Another Bad Idea”) lack that delicate balance, but this new song cycle ultimately proves Schneider’s most cohesive since 2001’s Lonelyland. — BRIAN T. ATKINSON