Album Review: Pryce & Perone’s “Brazen”
ALBANY – Releasing their follow-up record, Brazen, on June 9th, Pryce & Perone have added another nine incredibly crafted songs to their catalogue. Blending genres of rock, funk, folk, singer-songwriter, and Latin (one of the aspects of the record that come out of left-field), the creative duo displays yet again the power of their songwriting collaboration.
Opening the record, the intro to “Ride of the Huguenots” is the soundscape of a person watching an older analog TV, complete with the fuzz and click of channels. As background noises break away, we’re greeted with some nice guitar and piano interplay between Matthew Pryce and Alex Perone, respectively. The instrumental, which explores some great modal qualities – especially bits of harmonic minor – is peaceful to hear, and the song does well to pull audiences in for the rest of the album. Developing further, well-crafted guitar harmonies are introduced, before receding, similar to the ebb and flow of tide. Aside from the notes themselves, the effects used – phaser and overdrive – greatly help to boost the overall feel of the track.
The next song, “Some Sunny Day,” features crunchy guitars and piano. What’s not to enjoy? The groove being undeniable and relentless makes this quite easy to dig one’s teeth into, even on first listen. While it’s true the duo covers instrumental duties fantastically well, it would be remiss to not mention Alex Perone’s vocal ability. Perhaps quirky in the sense that it’s a bit more theatrical than typical rock tunes allow for, the voice cuts through strongly, and in such a crisp fashion. It’s in this song that first-time listeners will start getting acquainted with Perone’s subtle, but effective chordal playing and voice leading on the piano. Similar to “Some Sunny Day,” is “Molly’s Song,” track five, though the piano has a bit more room to stretch its legs. Another aspect that makes this song fun is Pryce’s blistering guitar solo that concludes the track, fading out on a high note – never mind the pun.
Track three, “Train To Somewhere,” is much more rhythmic in nature. The song contains some great Latin musical figures performed on percussion and acoustic guitar. “Put the Guns Away,” track seven, is also rhythmic in nature, acoustically speaking. Unlike other tracks on the record, this song features pretty string parts that float in and around a mainly arpeggiated, sometimes chromatic, piano part.
Another display of well-crafted piano parts, the intro to “That Smile,” track four, contains tons of arpeggiated parts that develop into an extremely Elton John-type of chord progression, especially when paired with the groove that is performed behind it. Though Perone has a command over many notes in his vocal register, it’s the opinion of this author that this song fits right in his sweet spot, melodically speaking. Pryce placing his guitar solo in the latter half of the tune is a great arrangement choice; a natural payoff to an obvious – but welcomed nonetheless – instrumental climax.
“Realer Love,” track six is drenched in vocal harmonies and keyboard parts that often serve as the song’s sonic bedrock. The tune takes the record in a bit of a slower direction. Fueling a type of nostalgia and warmth, the lyrics are easy for one to parse their meaning. There are tons of melismas in Perone’s vocal performance in this song, and further demonstrates how well he has crafted his voice. Just as with “Ride of the Huguenots,” Pryce’s guitar’s tone is absolutely killer on this track during the concluding solo.
“Someone’s Having a Good Time,” track eight, is a proper rocker. The tune with arguably the most bombast on the entire record, it seemingly comes out of left-field – in all the right ways. There’s a lot of words one could write to get the point across, but at the end of the day, it suffices to just say: this song is goddamn fun. This is far and away my favorite song on a record chock-full of quality tunes.
An extremely jaunty instrumental, “Square Egg” closes the record out. Containing keyboards, guitars, one damn funky bass guitar, and tons of drums, it’s a fun way to end the album. It’s interesting to bookend an album with two instrumental tracks, and ones that are wildly different from one another! While there were background noises in the beginning that mimic someone watching TV, for this song, the noises come at the end. It’s as if the entire record is the program an unnamed person is seeing, and then when it’s over, the TV turns off, and we hear them lazily singing to themselves. A nuance, perhaps, but for this listener, it is aspects like that which turn something from being just an album, to a truly enjoyable listening experience.
Are there certain moments the duo seems to ham it up a bit with their instrumentation? Sure. But at the end of the day, the songs get across the point, and do so with panache, of two friends continually celebrating over two decades of friendship. Fun, exciting, and well-produced, Brazen is a solid follow-up album for Pryce & Perone. Check it out for yourself here!