The first time I’d heard of Bruno Pernadas I was watching him at a festival in Portugal. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but my Portuguese friends assured me I’d love it. So, with a bit of trepidation, I settled in to watch. After five minutes I was interested. After 15 I was into it. After 30 I was captivated and by the end, I was a convert. The last thing I did that day, when I was back in the hotel, was order his back catalogue so it would be at home waiting for me upon my arrival.
Since then, Pernadas has performed concerts only playing Sun Ra songs, produced albums for Kikagku Moyo and Montanhas Azuis and hinted that he was working on a follow up to 2016’s ‘Worst Summer Ever’ and ‘Those Who Throw Objects At The Crocodiles Will Be Asked To Retrieve Them’. The waiting is now over. Pernadas has released his fourth album ‘Private Reasons’.
There is a hazy brilliance to ‘Private Reasons’. It triggers memories of sunny holidays abroad. ‘Family Vows’ opens with delicious harmonies and melodies. Everything is laidback. It isn’t as jazzy as ‘Worst Summer Ever’. Nor is it as loop based as ‘How Can We Be Joyful In A World Full Of Knowledge?’, but it does follow on the 70s psych of ‘Those Who Throw Objects At The Crocodiles Will Be Asked To Retrieve Them’, but everything just feels bigger. More polished and, well, gorgeous.
The standout track is ‘Step Out Of The Light’. Here Pernadas really flexes his musical muscles and shows what he can do. It is filled with classical motifs, luxurious strings, then a lumbering beat kicks in and it skews into an elegant pop song. It’s playful, but there is slight bite to the music underneath. During the instrumental section, the flutes, strings, and guitars dance about, but the piano keeps everything in check and when it’s time to get back to the job at hand everything slots back into that sublime groove.
At first I wasn’t sure about ‘Private Reasons’. Maybe it was because I’d played his previous three album A LOT since that fateful day in Lisbon, but it wasn’t grabbing me. The music was good, but it felt like Pernadas has been listening to the Beach Boys too much before recording. Then I do what I normally do at this time. I played it again. And again. And again. By the end of the second listen, I was into it. By the end of the third I was captivated and after that I got it. Or I think I do. ‘Private Reasons’ has a tropicalia psych vibe to it. It sounds like it was recorded in glorious sunshine sometime in the last century. The flute solo in ‘Brio 81’ feels like Kodachrome rays of sun shooting out of the speakers.
The burning question after listening to the album is has it been worth the five year wait since Pernadas’ last album? The answer is an unequivocal yes. This is everything I wanted and didn’t realise I needed. Overall ‘Private Reasons’ is Pernadas most ambitious album to date. It’s also his most rewarding. The songs are filled with luscious melodies. They feel familiar, but they aren’t. What Pernadas has done is tap into a rich vein of music that he adores but instead of feeling nostalgic it filled with contemporary bounce to it that is invigorating. It makes you want to listen to it more and more.
If there is any justice, this should be the soundtrack to the summer. But if it isn’t then I guess you have your own private reasons.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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