Album Spotlight: The Band Perry, ‘Pioneer’ – ToC Critic’s Pick
The Band Perry‘s new album ‘Pioneer’ is just as dramatic, yet dramatically more steady than their debut effort. The bar was raised and reached vocally, and songs like ‘Done,’ ‘Forever Mine Nevermind’ and ‘Chainsaw’ prove the family trio has lost nothing in terms of lyrical edge.
The highs aren’t quite as high (no song matches ‘If I Die Young,’ but it’s unfair to expect that), but the lows aren’t nearly as low on this more consistent collection of songs, ripped from the lives of Neil, Reid and Kimberly. ‘Pioneer’ succeeds at peeling back a few layers of the group’s personal lives, revealing just enough to leave fans invested after a single listen.
‘Back to Me Without You’ is the most vulnerable track of the 12. Kimberly Perry says it’s about losing a “friend.” “If it’s true, home is where the heart is / I guess now I’m homeless,” she sings on this cathartic ballad that finds her brothers giving her advice during each chorus. “Slow death of a slow dance / The tailspin of a romance,” she adds at the end, leaving no doubt as to the nature of this kinship.
Throughout the album the Perry brothers are used in more creative ways than ever before. They’re less backup singers and more of a supporting chorus on songs like this inspiration and the very theatrical ‘Forever Mine Nevermind.’ While the latter feels written for Broadway (or ‘Glee!’), it’s very effective and a ton of fun. One can almost see the choreography as Kimberly scorns her lover. “You piece of dirt / I trusted you,” she shouts before a brilliant final couplet: “The south lost the battle and children lose their youth / The best day of my life was on the day that I lost you.”
Other themes on ‘Pioneer’ include totally rad ’80s production on songs like ‘Done’ and the big jam ‘I’m a Keeper.’ The arrangements are mostly upbeat, but the group explores some dark places, as one would expect. Balance is achieved on their ode to Mother Perry called ‘Mother Like Mine,’ as well as the beautiful, unencumbered love devotional ‘I Saw the Light.’
‘Pioneer’ holds no shortage of styles and surprises, even a lilting folk song in the title track. For some, this will be the highlight of the project — one can be sure very few people will agree on a favorite. The ambitious lyric shows a maturity largely unmatched by a group only two albums into a blossoming career. A few of their bold choices come rough around the edges, but the collection is more than strong enough to justify a headlining tour in 2014 — something the band is currently working on.