by Mike Corrigan

Looking for genuine songwriting prowess in a world ruled by superficiality? Well my fellow pop rock renegades, you owe it to yourself to grab the new one from the Pernice Brothers, The World Won't End, before it slips away.

Rarely is modern alt-pop so literary, bittersweet and just plain gorgeous. Around tightly crafted vignettes of failed love and desperation, songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Joe Pernice and his band weave a dense but luminous tapestry of sound, rich with tastefully restrained guitar, tinkling piano and pedal steel. Strings add depth but never overstay their welcome. The album has an immediate and organic feel that is all too rare in these days of harsh digital efficiency -- the instruments virtually flow, ebb, rise and fall around Pernice's breathy, lamenting vocals.

Lyrically, it's one clever, well-written knock out after another. The relatively breezy "Working Girls" starts off the set, leveling every dreamy, summery sentiment with a tincture of anxiety ("Contemplating suicide or a graduate degree/ Answers 'How's it going?' with 'I feel sullen, I feel sullen, I feel seventeen'"). "Bryte Side" is ravishing yet profoundly sad. By the time you get to track eight -- the astonishing "Flaming Wreck"-- and its relationship in distress/airplane disaster metaphor, you feel emotionally wrung out but satisfied.

Like a gentle whisper in your ear from a loved one, The World Won't End has a way of making you tingle all over while simultaneously restoring your faith in the inherent potency of music.

Festival of Fair Trade @ Community Building

Sat., Nov. 26, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 27, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
  • or