Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Ashmont Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Country-Rock
Do You Love the Sun, the first new collection of songs to appear from Massachusetts-based alt-country/Northern gothic folk quartet Scud Mountain Boys since 1996, pretty much picks up where things left off. Warm, weary, and congenially intimate, Joe Pernice, Stephen Desaulniers, Bruce Tull, and Tim Shea have crafted a fine new set of understated anthems for the terminally wistful and forlorn, all of which strut and fret their hour upon the stage in that elusive grey area between melancholic, bottle-strewn, front-porch country and resigned, Sunday afternoon, post-pot roast AM pop. The album boasts its fair share of last-call, midtempo juke joint laments ("Crown of Thorns," "Drew Got Shot," "You're Mine"), but Pernice's pop pedigree, which has been honed over the years through a steady stream of solo and full band (the Pernice Brothers, Chappaquiddick Skyline) releases, muscles its way to the surface on some of the record's better moments, like the lush and languid "Theme from Midnight Cowboy," the weepy "Double Bed," and the cleverly subversive, suburban blues tale "The Mendicant," the latter of which deftly and comically, albeit darkly, provides a rusty bridge between the boys of old and the men they have since become.
Do You Love the Sun is the first Scud Mountain Boys record since 1996, when the band released the excellent Massacusetts and then split up. You could argue, though, that the Scud Mountain Boys were never very far away since all three members stayed busy, with Joe Pernice notably continuing on with solo albums, collaborations with brother Bob as the Pernice Brothers, and a few other projects. Pernice’s later work, though, showed more of a pop soul than the country-tinged Scuds records, so those earlier Scud Mountain Boys songs always held a place of fondness in many fans’ hearts.
Apparently born of a couple of impromptu on-stage reunions in 2011, the Scud Mountain Boys have returned with their first album since 1996’s fantastic “Massachusetts. ” So what has changed in the intervening 17 years? Not much; other than an occasional, slight thickening in Joe Pernice’s singing voice, the Scuds still sound as they ever did, making understatement the watchword for everything they do, and mining an idiosyncratic vein that issues in several varieties of the slow, forlorn side of country — as in the beautiful lope-and-mope of “The Mendicant” and the acoustic guitar-strum and highline-steel combination of “Double Bed. ” The songs are as devotedly bleak as ever, too, even while, typically, remaining as opaque (is the premise of the stream-of-consciousness “Double Bed” a relationship that ended in breakup? In murder? Is “The Mendicant” sketching the self-loathing of a stay-at-home male?).