Pernice Brothers – [Album]

Saturday, 03 July 2010

Some records are possessed of an intangible quality that makes listeners feel like they've come home – there's a comfortable and lived-in feeling that has a warm glow to it. The reigning masters of creating this sort of atmosphere is Soul Asylum – they wear their hearts on their sleeve and inspire listeners to do the same – but other most worthy contenders for the title include Uncle Tupelo, Paul Westerberg, Golden Smog and (to an only slightly lesser degree) Son Volt – each has ridden their ability to articulate catharsis to gold and platinum-numbered sales. It's a venerable list, but the next-generation heirs to the throne are Pernice Brothers and the band stakes that claim with ease on Goodbye, Killer. The band's sixth studio album is where, as if by magic, singer Joe Pernice taps into an infectious brand of wounded heartache that was also the key to the work of those aforementioned groups and it comes through fresh and attractive to listeners, in its own way.

There's no arguing that Pernice is injured as “Bechamel” opens the record and finds the singer wrestling with a very familiar resentment and frustration  but, rather than becoming dour or joyless, he doesn't let his feelings rule him; as Dave Pirner, Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy have done before, Pernice goes out of his way to look every-which-way but directly at his emotions. That half-hearted disavowal of any emotional injury is the hook that sinks deep into listeners; he doesn't want to show he's hurting so of course no one can miss it, and listeners come along because they can relate to that sort-of sweet and sort-of sour sentiment.

From there, listeners find themselves living vicariously through each song on Goodbye, Killer. Every time Pernice makes a run for a rock number (like “Jacqueline Susann” and “F***king and Flowers”), listeners find their chests swelling along with his before shrinking with him when he hits a block to stumble over (songs like the aptly-entitled “The End Of Faith” and “The Loving Kind” are prime examples of that, contrasted against the aforementioned rockers) and falls into a more heartfelt folk mode. He always manages to pick himself up though (even if it is against his better judgment – as is the case on “The Great Depression”) and moves on, undaunted, looking for the next challenge.

That movement, along with the fact that Joe Pernice never succumbs to self-pity at any point here, is the inspiring thing about Goodbye, Killer. True, the band acknowledges the well-worn ground it's treading on, but it's still a heart-melting experience; Goodbye, Killer is the sound of endurance in spite of emotional injury and that's both an inspiring thing as well as a rewarding listen.



Pernice Brothers – “Jacqueline Susann” – Goodbye, Killer


Goodbye, Killer
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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