|I first heard about the Pernice Brothers while leafing through a copy
of CMJ magazine during a slow afternoon at Borders, the bookstore where
I work. It was May, the academic quarter was drawing to a close, and I
was enjoying a peaceful moment at work amidst an otherwise chaotic day
filled with quasi-irate customers and my own panicked thoughts of impending
As I stood there, attempting to look engrossed in, say, the latest edition of the store newsletter, my eyes scanned down the "recommended if you like" half of the reviews page and I saw that one album was recommended for belle and sebastian fans. I was immediately intrigued. I proceeded to actually read the review, and it seemed like something I would like, a pleasant blend of alt.country and pop. so I made a mental note of the release date, and bought it at workwhen it came out. I took it home, unwrapped it, andgave it a good listen. and I loved what I heard. something about the sound of it, the longing in the vocals, the tender arrangements of the violins and guitars and horns, really struck me. the music was simple, but at the same time had a resounding sense of completeness.
Try to recall the last time you listened to an album thatfeatured, among other instruments, a flugelhorn. And that flugelhorn's not all. In addition to the standard guitars, drums, and occasional piano, add three trombones, some violins and violas, and even the languid strummings of a harp.
The title track starts slowly and sparsely, with joe's sandpaper vocals against a backdrop of simple drums and a hushed bass line building into a richly swirling number that melts easily into the next track. The characteristic twang of pernice's earlier work isabsent here. the Pernice Brothers take pop sensibilities and flesh them out completely, a la belle and sebastian, to make for an album that's completely satisfying.
I liked the layers. I liked the sound of joe pernice's voice. I liked that it felt like there was a pervading sense of loss or even melancholy in the songs, but that that feeling of absence was what tied everything together to make the sound complete. I thought about that a bit when I was first listening to the album, the idea of a lack of something somehow defining the greater whole. perhaps I am waxing a bit too philosophical here, but when I was listening to this album constantly for the first week or so I owned it, itall made sense to me, given things in my life at that point. the music was whole, filling, like a good meal. a meal complete with appetisers, wine, entree, anddessert. sonically, instead of nutritionally, balanced.