From The Desk Of Joe Pernice: Elvis Costello’s “Imperial Bedroom”

JoePerniceFor more than a decade, the Pernice Brothers have mostly made plush, romantic orchestral pop that doesn’t gild the lily once tended by the Zombies, Walker Brothers and Elvis Costello. True to frontman Joe Pernice’s working-class nature, the band’s sixth and latest album, Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont), does away with the sighing string section and goes straight for the guitars, from the mod-rock riffing of “Jacqueline Susann” to the Teenage Fanclub power-pop of “Something For You.” After a four-year spell between albums, the Pernice Brothers return with their leanest and most efficient effort to date. Pernice will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new Q&A with him.


Pernice: OK, this is my final post. It must be about music. And it must be superlative. So here you go. I would never say such-and-such an album is the greatest album of all time because the ensuing debate would be tied with “which religion is better” for the most boring way to spend my ever-shrinking time on Earth. But for my money, the one album I’d choose to own if I could only own one is … Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom. There you go. But I think this “desert island record” stuff is a bunch of bunk. Think about it. What state would the world have to be in for someone with the obvious authority to say, “OK, Joe, we’re moving you to this desert island, and you can only take one record with you.” To that I’d say, “Fuck the record. How about a lifetime supply of toothpaste and brushes. Maybe some penicillin and hunting and fishing gear. How about a fertile, lovely genius to help me repopulate the place?” A record? What the fuck am I going to do on a desert island with an LP? Do I get a turntable? How am I going to power the turntable, rig some monkey-driven Gilligan’s Island bamboo job? Seems like way too much work to listen to a record. Ever have giardia? Well I have not, and I don’t plan on contracting it sipping from a lemur’s toilet, listening to a record when I should have been helping my genius breeding partner concoct some sort of water-purification system. Desert island record. Please. It’s like the IRS telling you that you shouldn’t worry because even in the event of a wide scale catastrophic nuclear event, the U.S. government is prepared to continue collecting and spending tax dollars. Oh, really? Good luck. “Sorry, I seem to have to have lost my billfold in the blast. I do, however, have a surplus of poisonous seared flesh.” I could definitely live quite happily without Imperial Bedroom or any other album for that matter. I don’t want to, but I could. Now go listen to Imperial Bedroom, then read Maslow’s “Hierarchy Of Needs.”

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