“The genus names of all the flowers that were feeding off her amazing glow…”
It’s rare to hear such specific botanical lyrics in any song. Rarer still to hear them in a song so elegantly layered, conjuring up visions like a time lapse photo of the flowers it refers to. What is not so unusual is to hear music like this from Joe Pernice, creator and brains behind some five different musical projects or bands. From that red-tuliped album cover to those aforementioned horticulturist lyrics, Discover a Lovelier You plants some perennial lyrics watered with a complex bouquet of musical themes to create a stunning landscape of sound in full bloom. The album reaches its loftiest height with track nine, “Amazing Glow”.
Beginning in the early ’90s, Joe Pernice has dabbled in some disparate genres through a long career as an indie artist. Starting with some straightforward rock with The Scuds, Pernice transformed that band into the country-folk set Scud Mountain Boys, who were known to add a down-home feel to their performances by playing around a kitchen table on stage . Joe’s latest creation is Pernice Brothers, who’s sound is often said to evoke the complex melodies of Brian Wilson. 2005’s Discover a Lovelier You is their fourth studio album.
The song’s principle hook is presented right from the top with a soft electric guitar establishing its melody. Never not backed by the rhythm section, it comes out of the gate laying down its cards, like somehow any less lush of a sound, for even a few notes would be akin to pulling the petals off a tulip. Somehow though, Pernice manages to up the arrangement ante with each stage of the song. Verse 1 flutters around that same melody and then in between chorus 1 and verse 2 brings back that opening hook, this time with vocals as Joe spins a velvet string of “da da”s across the space to verse 2. The complexity hits its climax after verse 2, with some of the most gorgeous harmonies heard on record. This “Amazing” finale is where Pernice earns those comparisons to Wilson and Company.
The lyrics are left open to plenty of interpretation. What I get more than any type of story is a dream-like vision of clearing away old and dim decorations with a “wrecking ball” of “amazing glow”. Pernice likes to play with off-pronunciations like emphasizing the “less” in “effortlessly, and couches manic lyrics like “I still wake up screaming” in such a lilting tone that you might not even notice for a few listens.
More than most, this song demands a good set of headphones. Experiencing it with anything less doesn’t come close to delivering the full warmth of being wrapped up in this song’s sonic blanket. Try this one with a hot cup of tea on a quiet night.
To try it out, have a look at this nice post on Wires and Waves with a full preview.