It's not quite fair to say that Little Man's Soulful Automatic is the album that local thrift-store pop bands have been trying to make for years. Better to say it's what some fans of Matt Wilson, Mark Mallman, and the Owls have been waiting for: a fully realized studio work that feels at home in its sound, an album touched by vintage beauty, with hit-after-hit songwriting. You can credit advanced local engineering for some of Automatic's sonics. Or you can point to the variety achieved by employing four experienced producers with clashing sensibilities (Ike Reilly's Ed Tinley, the Beatifics' Chris Dorn, the Rank Strangers' Mike Wisti, and former Rank Stranger Jacques Wait). But the aural richness is all Little Man. The lyrics amount to your best guess. When we last talked to singer-guitarist Chris Perricelli, we found him to be an earnest quester with a penchant for travel metaphors. Which means the title track about "gems in your pocket" is meant to be taken literally. But dude is so gifted and generous with hooks that every chorus feels like it's expressing something personal and meaningful. Perricelli's tender vocal quaver doesn't fudge a note—his harmonies are icing rather than touch-up. Live, drummer Ryan Otte and bassist Ben Foote look grateful and galvanized to be in Perricelli's company. They can't keep themselves from moving or smiling, while face-scrunching Perricelli looks entirely lost in song. Who would have guessed that this jolt of happiness would come not from the margins of hip hop, punk, or metal, but from the rock center?