Written by: Dave Cantrell
With a vocal style that has no choice but to sound like the ecstatic bastard son of David Thomas, plus an endearing avant-pop weirdness that doubles as intimate down home, mildly deranged therapy rock that triples as dramatic kitsch balladry that quadruples as a Nuggets era lost masterpiece (we could go on), Pearie Sol’s second full-length Real Happiness (released June 18th on Happy Happy Birthday To Me), despite the wooly off-the-beaten-trackness that our description just now implies, never fails to lead to a place of genuine pop delight. Whereas the quality – in both the character and accomplishment aspects of that word – can’t really be all that much of a surprise given that Pearie (née Perry) is a member of Washington DC’s noise-pop extraordinaires Gauche, there’s a joy inherent in this record that exceeds expectation. Even though this is a solo joint and so naturally brims with a more singular drive, it’s nonetheless the case that the crafted, confident pop-centricity baked into Real Happiness‘s every track is noteworthy enough to merit a quick spin-through. In a playful yet dead serious way this album, and by extension the artist that made it, remind me of a license plate frame I noticed yesterday that I’d never seen before: “Get in and buckle up. I want to try something.” What follows is the charmingly candid view of Real Happiness from the driver’s seat by Pearie himself, allowing you to sit yourself in the backseat, so to speak, and follow along by tapping in to the stream down below. It’s an intriguingly idiosyncratic ride to say the least. [links beneath the stream]
- Take My Body: I remember hearing some sort of pseudoscience idea about the brain slowing down time as you approach death. Though I’m not sure this idea holds much water, it fascinated me nonetheless. There are also theories in physics about how time slows down infinitely as one approaches a black hole. So I suppose this song is some sort of intertwining of these two ideas, along with a little musing about what might happen in the moments before death.
- Real Happiness: Ahh, the titular track… Back when I would drive around door to door teaching piano, I would frequently listen to audio books I checked out from the library. I particularly liked this Great Lectures series (what a name!). There was one lecture on Aristotle and happiness that felt particularly relevant to me at the time. His definition of happiness was more along the lines of virtue and being useful than something like joy or pleasure. So wanting to feel content and ok in the world is what I try to explore here.
- Apathy: This was a really fun song to record. I’ve always loved reggae, ska, and early dub music so I had a good time trying to merge some of those rhythms and musical ideas with my own sounds. This is one of the only songs I’ve written which gets anywhere near political or global issues. I think it’s really easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed with all the problems the world faces. There are also so many different ways to distract oneself. So I suppose the quote “evil prevails when good people do nothing” essentially sums up this song’s theme.
- Spanish Pain: There was an Isaac Albeniz piano prelude I read through a while back, and the main riff of this song is largely borrowed from that piece. Spanish Pain is about trying to escape my own pain and traumas to the point where I maybe forget where they even came from. Though with enough willingness the mind can ignore or even forget, the body never seems like it truly can. Some pains can carry on from generation to generation.
- Slime Pit: This is a dumb song. There was some buzzy nostalgic noise rock thing I listened to at some point and I remember thinking that it sounded so good but it was so simple and dumb. So that’s kinda what I tried to do here. I was also trying to remember back to what Sega Genesis games used to sound like – sewage-y, surfy blues. I particularly like the way the solos came out on this one.
- Marched On: This one’s about feeling forgotten or ignored. I’m not sure where the march thing came from. I guess I was kinda thinking about that Ants Go Marching on song, and picturing someone falling behind and no one stopping to help them or even noticing they’re gone. It also kinda sounds like a sea chanty to me.
- November Frost: This song is about feeling nervous and lost in the world but having someone you trust that can help ground you back to safety. In the lyrics I play with imagery of going out in the cold and coming back into a warm comfortable place that feels like home.
- This Time: Relationships can sometimes go on longer than they are meant to last. Words we say to one another about why this time will work and how things will be different begin to lose their meaning through repetition. There are things that are said once that can outlive what is said a thousand times. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to walk away.