The Pernice Brothers


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With songs such as "Crestfallen," the Pernice Brothers manage to breathe life into the otherwise tired and dated format of light, '70s-style pop. Boldly embracing soft melodies with lush orchestration in the vein of silky songwriters such as Burt Bacharach and latter-day Elvis Costello, Joe Pernice and company go against the grain of the surging testosterone-rock of the day, taking on mature subject matters with admirable sensitivity throughout their inspired debut, Overcome by Happiness.

"Crestfallen"'s effusive, well-crafted pop sets the tone for the entire record, leading off with clean electric guitars chiming on a catchy, three-chord riff and backed by a subtle string arrangement and a gently propelled, straight-up beat supported by drummer Aaron Sperske's soft-plunking snare. Joe Pernice sings with a breathy hush, examining painful discoveries of eroding self-delusion: "Oh, I need some time to make sense of something I lost along the ride/Thought I was fine/When she speaks she's like a mime/It's hard to read a simple mind/Turns me inside out in a way I can't define." The chorus line is supported by tight backing vocal harmonies singing, "It's a long way to fall," then Pernice adds with crushing disappointment, "When you find out that it never happened at all," the devastation complete as the strings gently rise to the surface. The end dissolves into an extended half-time coda, the groove breaking down to a single acoustic guitar, with drums and bass delicately joining in as weeping strings sweep through the gently building crescendo as background vocal "ooh"s seep into the mix.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Overcome by Happiness 1998 Sub Pop 3:53