In the four years since the previous Pernice Brothers album, Joe Pernice has published a terrific debut novel (It Feels So Good When I Stop), released an accompanying soundtrack, and had his name catapulted into Twitter infamy by his acerbic foil (and manager), Joyce Linehan. (Those Dangerfieldian tête-à-têtes have been collected in a book, Pernice to Me, available to those who pre-ordered the new record online.)
Pernice’s sixth studio album under the Brothers moniker is a palate cleanser that’s more satisfying than most bands’ main courses. Recorded with a smattering of musicians and free of lush pop arrangements, these 10 songs are some of Pernice’s most loosey-goosey and stripped-down. “Jacqueline Susann” and “Bechamel” are marked by raw excitement, as if the band had just been shown the changes. Elsewhere, Pernice and company are so relaxed that they echo ramshackle royalty like the Flying Burrito Brothers (“Newport News”) and the Faces (“Goodbye, Killer”).
This only augments Pernice’s self-depreciating and subversively cutting streak — more Elvis Costello than Elvis Costello on “The Loving Kind,” and deadpan on “We Love the Stage,” in which he asserts, like any good tongue-in-cheek pragmatist, “We sing to six the way we sing to 10.”