Punk – Like you’ve never heard it before. Perennial offer up a challenge and more.
Release Date: 1st February 2022
Label: Self release
Well – I’ve never reviewed anything quite like this before – and that’s for sure. In The Midnight Hour, the second album from Connecticut punk outfit Perennial is a whirlwind of tight, fast, furious, riff-laced anguish, deftly played and packed with unexpected detours into jazz, electronica and even R&B. It’s an album that goes all over the place whilst retaining a sense of real discipline and it’s pretty irresistible.
Perennial was formed in 2015 and In The Midnight Hour is the band’s second album – their first since 2017’s Symmetry Of Autumn Leaves. Whilst never straying far from their punk roots, the band embraces a wide range of other genres and, in keeping with their intention to make a punk record that doesn’t sound like a punk album, they’ve used their instrumental diversity to stunning effect. I mean – just look at this lineup; there’s stuff here that you’d never expect from a pure punk band:
Chelsey Hahn – Vocals, electric organ, synthesizer bass, tambourine, effects, guitar feedback;
Chad Jewett – Vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, electric organ, tambourine, shaker, bells, drum programs, effects, xylophone, synthesizer, drums;
Wil Mulhern – Drums;
Michael Buckland – Trumpet; and
Chris Teti – Guitar.
That’s a pretty eclectic menu, and it sure comes over in the music.
Chad Jewett describes the goal of the project: “…to make the kind of band we wish we’d heard more often… to explore the kinds of sounds that captivated us growing up [taking punk and dance and soul and jazz and 60s garage rock and making something new and chic and daring]. We also wanted something that would really be alive on stage, so, from the beginning, the focus was both on making records that would reward an afternoon with headphones and a live show that would be captivating and memorable and like nothing you’ve seen all year. We wanted to give people a reason to come and see our band.”
Well, it’s mission accomplished, I guess! In The Midnight Hour certainly does take a healthy dose of soul, jazz and garage – I’d also add copious servings of thrash metal to that mix – and the resulting concoction is certainly new and daring. I couldn’t even start to go through each track and provide a detailed rundown, but the overall impact of the album made me realise what a blend of The Sex Pistols, The Standells, Metallica, Martha and the Vandellas, Miles Davis and Captain Beefheart would probably sound like.
Although In The Midnight Hour is quite possibly the most unpredictable album I’ve ever heard, there is something of a formula that underlies each of these songs. The riffing is heavy and tight throughout, and the guitar-heavy sections tend to alternate with vocal passages in which the lyrics are screeched with a burning urgency and backed by a Burundi drumbeat, yet there’s a certain poetic purity to the vocal delivery, and many of songs also feature a mellow, electronic, playout passage. It’s all immensely fascinating.
The tunes come thick and fast – typically, each track is around a minute and a half in duration – but there are a couple of two-minute-plus marathons, and, in amongst the cascade, I did pick out a few extra-special moments. After five tracks of artful madness, the electronic instrumental, Hey Eurydice comes as quite a welcome surprise, the agony-laden Melody For A New Comet alternates the fastest/heaviest of heavy metal with some wonderful bass/synth passages and, probably best of all, the epic (2:34) I Am The Whooping Crane covers every base on the genre list before playing out with a marvellous synth/electric organ and heavy drumbeat coda.
In The Midnight Hour is vital, frantic, invigorating, refreshing and just a little challenging. You should check it out.
Get a feel for what Perennial is all about – watch this video of the band explaining themselves and performing live at Labyrinth Audio Studio in Boston:
Watch out for an upcoming piece from the band on the music that helped shape In The Midnight Hour