Lit Lit (Nitrus/DRT/Dirty Martini)

After amicably breaking ties with major label RCA, Lit experience -- phew -- freedom. But where to go musically? Back to the beginning, natch. Frontman A. Jay Popoff, brother/guitarist Jeremy, bassist Kevin Baldes and drummer Allen Shellenberger keep it simple, abandoning studio gloss and reaching for live-show grit. The result: Lit, a comfortable collection that successfully showcases the SoCal quartet's tightness and musical maturity. Once and again an indie band, the foursome continue to move from pop to metal to
punk and back with carefree abandon. Power pop gets Beatlesque for a moment on "Forever Begins Right Now," adopts a Cheap Trick lightness on "Needle and Thread" and thrashes about on "Too Fast for a Fast Turn." The
foursome takes some serious turns as well, addressing suicide on Bulletproof" and hard personal luck on "Times Like These"; A. Jay, a first-time father, injects a newfound tenderness to "Lullaby" and sings with understanding the Cure's ode to commitment "Pictures of You." Throughout, the guys keep it loose and easy, clearly enjoying themselves and the music they make. It's a surefire recipe for good pop, and hit records.