Perennial Breaks Down Every Track On Their New Album “In The Midnight Hour”


Perennial just released their new album At the midnight hour, which, as we said in our review, will take you back to early 2000s dance-punk with influences like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Blood Brothers, The Rapture, Nick Cave, The Sonics, Motown, The Free jazz etc more on this album, co-vocalist Chad Jewett has now given us a detailed track-by-track breakdown. Stream it below and read what they had to say about each song.

If you’re in Massachusetts, Perennial open for giraffes? Giraffes! tonight (04/15).

“The Skeleton Dance”
Much of what we write is filtered through what we think is compelling live. We wrote “The Skeleton Dance” very purposefully to be the opener of the set, so it’s fast and has a lot of dynamics – the kind of stuff that I think makes for a good opener. Originally the song started out with a single guitar playing the main riff, but that seemed a bit too simple for the record we were trying to make, so we started creating this intro in echo and free jazz instead and Chelsey writes a new verse to sing over. This passage, from this loose improvisation sound collage to this really tense and sharp post-hardcore song, made a good metaphor for the record in our eyes. The main riff also contains a lot of MC5s.

“At Midnight Hour”
“In The Midnight Hour” was one of the few songs that grew out of just playing whatever came into your head during practice. Wil and I were playing along to this very Motown bass and drum groove and it eventually turned into “Midnight Hour”. We’re forever in love with the quiet/loud dynamic, and this song takes that as far as it can go, with that really quiet bridge where it’s just Chelsey and me whispering the hook, all the way to that explosive final chorus. Wil is such a brilliant songwriter and storyteller as a drummer; capable of creating and harnessing these dynamics at their fair value. This one is another really fun live number.

“Soliloquy for Neil Perry”
We saw “Soliloque for Neil Perry” as a chance to really use the studio as an instrument, which [producer] Chris [Teti] totally encouraged and helped to make it possible. The song has a very 1966-era Beatles groove (not to mention mid-career Jam energy), so we started piling on that kind of aesthetic: fuzz bass, backwards guitar parts, wah-wah pedals, lots of organ and tambourine. It has that fun retro quality that we really liked in the studio. More than once, the four of us (Chelsey, Chad, Wil, and Chris) laughed at those very over-the-top 60s Mod choices we made on this song, piling on the groovy early psychedelic stuff. You don’t hear a ton of pedal wah in post-hardcore these days. Alas.

“Lauren Bacall in Blue”
“Lauren Bacall In Blue” is an ode to our cat (and fourth member of Perennial), Wasabi the Cat. “I clean my claws in the blue of the moonlight.” The original version of this song was a more restrained and muscular punk song, so we really wanted to cut it up and put it back together in a new way to
the LP. So we added the dance elements in the verse – drum machine, cowbell, programmed synth bass – and the post-bop jazz ideas in the bridge, with our friend Mike Buckland adding that big, evocative Miles-style trumpet Davis’ work on the Gallows lift soundtrack, which Chris captured really beautifully during the mixing phase.

“Food for Hornets”
It was another that we reworked from an earlier version, this time adding a kind of ambient electronic outro with a new verse. We really like albums that feel like a whole world, with a whole set of ideas, images and patterns. So we’ve added some lyrical references to “In The Midnight Hour” here to create those fun echoes. Chelsey’s vocal performance is truly amazing here, as is Wil’s drumming. It’s a tour de force on the part of the two. The bridge was also fun to find, this slowed down breakdown and leviathan in an otherwise very nervous dance-punk rush. The idea for the two-note lead riff comes from our love of James Brown’s mid-’60s singles, where the guitar is often just this tight, minimalistic accent over a larger groove.

“Hello Eurydice”
The most of At the midnight hour is very sharp and angular, so we wanted to have that nice respite in the middle of the album where the sounds could be a bit rounder, ambient and lush. I ran our Alesis drum machine through a distortion pedal and a digital delay pedal and then cut all the highs and most of the mids from the results so it created this smooth, dreamer. The song really came together when I tried layering two versions of the same programmed beat, one in 4/4 and one in 6/4, with panning on either earphone. He ended up creating this neat sonic back-and-forth: very Stereolab-esque. The title is a nod to “The Lyre Of Orpheus” by Nick Cave & The Bad Seed.

“Tooth Plus Claw”
It was the first song we recorded for At the midnight hour and I think a lot of the recipe is here in this one: lots of organ and synth bass, Chelsey and I swapping vocals back and forth, the jazz elements in the drums and bass. I think our love for The Blood Brothers comes through especially clearly on this one – those minimal, gnarly guitar riffs in particular owe them a lot. This song seems like a particularly good entry to celebrate the work of Rachel Field and Ed Brooks of Resonant Mastering, who really understood what we were looking for on this record and did a brilliant job of making this album sing and roar. They are poets. “Tooth Plus Claw” is about trying to live a peaceful life in a world that can often feel so cruel and brutal.

“Melody for a New Cornet”
We wanted to write songs that you can move on to, and “Melody For A New Cornet” embodies a lot of that. We had fun treating this one like a science project in the studio: playing with the dynamics of the drums, adding beats and programmed synths, getting adventurous with the stereo mix. I like the idea of ​​a song with a very danceable groove that then turns into something abstract, while keeping that groove at heart. The lyrics are another ode to Nick Cave, this time “There She Goes, My Beautiful World”, where Nick sings for a muse in search of the cosmic brilliance that inspired great artists of the past. In “Melody For A New Cornet,” there’s another pile of books to contend with: Ovid and Sophocles and Emerson. I wanted my choir to be as messed up as possible (think Kurt Cobain on “Scentless Apprentice”) so we saved this one for the end of my vocal day and I just shouted Chris plays a really cool guitar part in the chorus, adding that neat feedback/harmonic thing that gives it that extra atonal edge.

“Hour of the Wolf”
Wil wrote every note of it, and it fits right in with the ’60s garage rock aesthetic that’s at the heart of Perennial. You might see this one appear on a Sonics LP. It’s one of the few “haunted house” songs on the album (the title is a nod to an Ingmar Bergman horror movie), which ended up being a theme for the entire disc: how your imagination takes flight in the night. Chelsey and I wrote lyrics describing an imaginary house full of ghosts, but with weirder, surreal imagery: a piano full of vines, strange sounds from the basement, trees scratching the glass. I love the vocal sound that Chris got here. It’s no small feat to get that kind of weird echo while keeping things crisp and immediate. But that’s why he’s the best.

“Perennial in a Haunted House”
This is truly Chelsey’s signature performance on the record. Her vocals here are just brilliant, especially that last chorus. It’s a song that we all worked really hard to get the dynamics right, making sure the energy was always high and there were lots of surprises, while keeping a pop structure. I rather like the pre-chorus breaks here, where Wil does this great minimal disco beat that compresses everything before the big choruses. We knew pretty early on that we wanted it to be the first single off the album, the first thing people would hear At the midnight hourso a lot of care was put into making sure “Perennial In A Haunted House” really had that magic.

“I am the white crane”
I was listening to a ton of Eric Dolphy Go out for lunch while we were working on the LP: this great sound of free jazz with a lot of space and these evocative vibraphones concerned me a lot. So the verses of “Whooping Crane” were built around this aesthetic, the choruses then launching into those punk outbursts with lots of organ, another echo of Nick Cave. For the end of the song we knew we wanted something huge and dramatic so we wrote this wild breakdown which Wil made even more compelling by placing his drum fills at a really interesting angle to the downbeat . Finally, we really wanted a bit of Motown Sound on this album (a fundamental influence for us), so we came up with the interlude leading up to “Absolver”, with the echoing snare drums, organs and tambourines. It was incredibly fun creating this section with Chris, doing our best to reverse engineer these amazing 60s singles.

I’ve always liked the idea of ​​the last song being a short kinetic burst rather than something too overworked or too long. “Absolver” is almost exactly a minute long, but like “The Skeleton Dance” (which is also quite brief), much of the At the midnight hour the sound is there. Chelsey has these really groovy organ hits in the main riff sections that I love. For the very end of the song, we added this tidal wave of commentary that takes over, like pieces of a collage pasted over the original image which is this main riff, which was a bit of a wink. eye at the end of The Hives’ ‘Supply and Demand’, which closes their 2000 album Vicious Veni Vidi in a similar way. The idea was to end with that last ghostly howl, then a few seconds of silence. The most haunting night, the quietest night.

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