by: Parmalee

Parmalee never made any apologies for the chipperness of their country-pop. If anything, they double down on high-octane cheer on 27861, their second album. It's been nearly four years since their 2013 debut, Feels Like Carolina, and although country music has changed a lot in that near half-decade, Parmalee haven't. They're still celebrating their hometown -- the numbers in the title constitute their native zip code -- and they still deliver a bright country-pop that doesn't take into account the R&B rhythms that have displaced bro-country at the top of the country charts in the mid-2010s. Listen to "Hotdamalama," with its ridiculous choo-choo chorus: despite its title, there's nary a trace of hip-hop here; it's all pounding arena country. Parmalee do this style well -- it helps that vocalist Matt Thomas seems to be singing with a permasmile; his friendliness is ingratiating -- but they're even better aiming straight down the middle of the road, writing smooth love songs for the suburbs. The flagship of this sound is "Mimosas," where Thomas seems even more excited about a Sunday brunch than his paramour, but "A Guy Meets a Girl" is nearly as endearing, coming across as Rascal Flatts pretending to be Sugar Ray. 27861 has a few other moments like this, which is what helps the album play like a breezy good time, even when it feels slightly out of step with 2017. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.