Even the simple moments of Bruno Pernadas’ latest release are treated with care and originality, leading to an album that constantly surprises.
On his fourth album, Private Reasons, Portuguese songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Bruno Pernadas reunites with collaborators old and new to craft an audacious psychedelic pop record that’s beauty is as massive as its curiosity. Effortlessly flowing from pop sounds channeling the beach, psychedelia, and the space age to jazz, modern classical, and impressionism, Pernadas takes us on a sensory journey ripe with dazzling vocal production and bizarre solos. Take the single, “Theme Vision,” a sweet, mostly simple psychedelic pop song that breaks into slinky, piercing moments from an unplaceable soloing instrument. After the second instance of this, the ensembles build and build, only to disappear into a final coda of beautiful women’s voices layered, singing the last thing you’d want to hear: “I may not want you, but oh, what a time to tell you.” They mock stunningly and acidicly: “Who would’ve known since you left me before, who would have guessed you’d be lonely?” On the next track, a two-part suite called Little Seasons, graceful, feminine voices once again sing apathetically of a suitor’s love, outfitted with a chamber group composed of strings, wind instruments, and kit. For the second part, the vocals subside and the instrumentalists hint at impressionistic moments in highlight “Step Out of the Light.” Here, the piano plays a soft melody, moving up and down a scale and joined by evocative, trembling strings and a trilling flute. After a couple minutes of this, altos join in, and the track bursts into a pop song with jazz fusion elements and a danceable groove. The nine-minute track expands many times and plants a number of false endings, allowing room for several members of the ensemble to play tender solos through the outro.
Elsewhere, disparate sounds shine through. “Fuzzy Soul,” an earlier track and one of the shortest, sounds like a sonic (and thematic) fit for Thundercat’s oeuvre, as Pernadas sings through a hazy, dream-like filter about a cat sitting on his lap, one he once owned but now apparently belongs to an ex. This is one of the most straightforward cuts on the album, but also contains a heavily-edited moment that seems to feature a singer and flugelhorn in unison, because even simple moments are treated with care and originality in Pernadas’ discography. Every track on Private Reasons contains a surprise, like the harp solo and lovely Korean vocals by Minji Kim in the “Jory” suite and the timpani, percussion grooves, and flute solo in “Brio 81.” Pernadas has delivered another gorgeous invitation to join him on the beach and bask in simple beauties, and the ensemble has never sounded more precious and expansive.
Published as part of Album Roundup — May 2021 | Part 2.