Music » Critics' Picks

The Rentals

7 p.m. Wednesday, April 15. Pop's, 1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois

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When Matt Sharp split from Weezer to concentrate on the Rentals, he made a gamble that hasn't fully paid off. After two sketchy, somewhat-unfocused albums in the late '90s, Sharp retreated, and the Rentals weren't heard from till last year's regrouping. The new four-song EP Last Little Life, however, doesn't return Sharp to form — it finally hits the emotional mark the new-wave popster had been aiming for all along. With chipper Moog, sunshine strings and unforced girl-group harmonies from Lauren Chipman, Rachel Haden and Sara Radle, tunes like "Last Romantic Day" and "Little Bit of You in Everything" thread the twee needle with a little soul, while the revisited "Sweetness and Tenderness" finds a climactic sweet spot that trumps the grungy original.

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