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.