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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

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[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
The Pernice Brothers
Discover a Lovelier You
Ashmont Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?


August 25, 2005
All the research I've done on Joe Pernice suggests that he's a songwriting genius - a smooth crooner capable of writing heartfelt melancholic gems that burst of honesty and truth. Even more so, he's regarded by many as an extremely skilled craftsman who has released an abundance of great sounding Pernice Brothers records.

And on this album, the Pernice Brothers' fourth studio effort Discover a Lovelier You, there's no room to argue about how beautifully-blended and warm the album sounds - and if that's what constitutes craftsmanship, then I'm in total agreement that front. This album is smooth, and the band sounds like an amazingly talented and slick bunch of players, well tuned to Joe's woeful tone. There's nothing wrong with any of that.

Yes, the album sounds beautiful - there's little doubt about that - but living solely on a good sound isn't enough. The album is not the exceptional display of songwriting mastery we've been led to believe by such stellar reviews; it is, in fact, hit or miss in terms of lyrical prowess, with nothing in-between.

On Discover a Lovelier You, everything goes well in the first couple songs, with "There Goes The Sun" leading off with a straightforward, simplistic foot-tapping verse, and alt-country and New Wave flavors that move toward an interesting, broken-beat chorus. With intriguing lyrics like "scratched your farewell couplet in my window frost" and "kick the life from me, till one better comes," it is everything we hope for with Pernice, as it is both a great opener and a wholly strong and memorable song.

"Saddest Quo" then turns and falls into cheery vintage pop, with Pernice's 'optimistic pessimist' theme still running strong; it delivers a catchy chorus to get stuck in your head and is good proof of another effective attempt. "Snow" picks matters up from here: a guitar driven up-tempo track with a catchy bass line, clearly enough to warrant excitement.

But "Sell Your Hair" brings everything to a halt; it is a slow waltzing ballad with cheesy flanging effects and 'la la las'. Once again, there is hopelessly bleak subject matter involved, as to be expected, but it sounds forced with all of the high-pitched electro xylophone tones and vocal flanges. And while "My So-Called Celibate Life" starts off interestingly, there is no further depth to it; the only truly intriguing part is its instrumental bridge. "Dumb It Down" leads again absolutely nowhere, with its repetitive sliding guitar and a single verse that starts of always with the track's title - which is quickly evident and monotonous - and it trails off from there outside of its sparkling solo and a half-timed beat change. A lot of the song, as well as the album, is about getting a poetic verse out of the way and finishing the song off. When Pernice's work relies on the listener's acceptance of the contradiction between happy music and sad lyrics, things get touchy. When it is not done with perfectly careful attention to detail, it can turn an audience off.

Right when faith in Discover a Lovelier You is wavering, in comes an instrumental break - the title track - and while the group sounds fantastic at the surface, I can only compare this with going to the theatre, feeling completely disinterested and having the curtain come down at intermission. You groan and stretch, seriously considering if the second half is worth witnessing.

One has to wonder about the placement of a dusty instrumental track smack dab in the middle of this disc, right after a thoughtless song and preceding one that, if I were indeed at the theatre, would have made me wish that I did leave at the half.

This track, "Say Goodnight to the Lady", is a bubble gum, Beatles-themed spectacle with a chorus of "We were happy, we were sad. She gave me the only one I've had." Once again, it follows a format of verse, chorus, verse, chorus into ending; at this point, there is nothing really interesting to differentiate it from the crowd. It would not be worth hanging on if not for a hidden gem, buried deep down in the outer rings of the disc: "Amazing Glow", one of the best tracks herein, is ultimately indicative of what Pernice's legendary capabilities. It warrants sticking with the disc to witness this moment; the track gives the impression personal remembrance, of humming a tune while reminiscing favorably about something beautiful lost. Light and aired out, melodic and backed by smooth harmonies, it is a wonderful reflection of its title. Unfortunately, nothing memorable happens for the next three songs, until a track named "Amazing Glimmer" appears as its counterpart: a 26 second faded-out clip of the intro to "Amazing Glow", included to remind the audience of the worthwhile moment a few tracks ago. In that regard, it is more than a little disappointing.

Maybe expectations of Discover a Lovelier You are too high, but when three or four quality songs out of thirteen, for such a highly regarded and respected songwriter, isn't enough to garner interest from those who aren't yet aware of the Pernice Brothers. Pernice's fans should be happy with the new offerings and highlights, but in the end, Discover a Lovelier You functions as something to tide longtime fans over until next time.

Reviewed by Randy Gaudreau
Holding down the fort up north in Vancouver, Randy Gaudreau is currently chipping away at things that keep him from forming some sort of life that would only work for him and everyone is proud of him for.

See other reviews by Randy Gaudreau

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