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Pernice Brothers - Yours, Mine & Ours

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Artist: Pernice Brothers

Album: Yours, Mine & Ours

Label: Ashmont

Review date: Jun. 26, 2003

Blinded by the Stars

For an album with fireworks on the cover, Yours, Mine & Ours is remarkably sedate – everything’s in its right place and not a notch louder than it needs to be. But don't be fooled by Joe Pernice or his calm demeanor. These songs are thick with feeling, quietly seething (quietly, yes, but seething all the same) with all the moods you'd expect in such a lovely record. The ocean here, the stars there, and all the like imagery bridged by the undertone of heartbreak. Pernice's deep croon harmonizes with itself and others beautifully over similarly layered guitars and a tasteful rhythm section, while the occasional appearance of pedal steel and keyboards only makes things prettier.

But the songs! Lord, the songs. Infectious melodies, ranging from totally bleak to cheerily bleak, and darling lyrics like "Pine away for the Romeo trying to smash your heart into a thousand summers" intersect at points recalling the best of R.E.M., Wilco, Nick Drake, etc. The contemplative melancholy of "Baby in Two" and the vindictive ambivalence of "Number Two" make for two pristine songs, and "One Foot in the Grave," while not quite following through on its potential, begins with one of the most breathtakingly lovely moments in recent memory. The aforementioned languor that seems to run throughout the album is only a catalyst, the reason a hint of distortion or artful wordplay can be so wonderfully devastating.

What can be off-putting about the record is that it doesn't slip up when you feel maybe it should; perhaps such earnest sentiment and pastoral melodies seem suited to lower fidelity, or maybe the sheer elegance of the project is a jarring departure from its bare emotional availability. In either case, the objections I've been considering since I first heard this album are the most innocuous kind — I'm tempted to look for some sort of catch, because Yours, Mine & Ours hints at the sparsity of a Mojave 3 record, the lushness of Pernice's erstwhile Chappaquiddick Skyline project, and the sheen of the yuppie-ready school of bastardized folk-country, but doesn't really stick with any of them. Ultimately, the album stands up, the harmony and candor of the songs compensating for any frustrated attempts at pigeonholing. So when I say that Yours, Mine & Ours sounds too good to be true, I'm resolved after much deliberation that this is an entirely positive thing: it is impeccably conceived, executed, and produced.

By Daniel Levin Becker

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