August 15, 2014 The Band Perry – Pioneer (Album review)
With the tremendous success of their self-titled first album released in October of 2010, The Band Perry worked fervently to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump” with the release of Pioneer in April 2013. Their first album sold 1,505,000 copies as of May of 2013, and produced two #1 hits including the incredibly popular, five times platinum crossover hit “If I Die Young”. With new album Pioneer, the trio composed of Kimberly, Ried, and Neal Perry successfully meets the challenge of creating an album that comes close to matching the success and popularity of their first release.
The trio released their first single from Pioneer “Better Dig Two,” in October of 2012. The song has the the same sad, haunting, almost creepy vibe that brought them so much success with “If I Die Young” on their first album. Throughout the track, lead singer Kimberly Perry tells the story of a disturbed wife so obsessed with her husband that when he dies she expresses that gravedigger better dig two graves-one for him and one for her. It cannot be expressed enough that “Better Dig Two” was the absolute perfect debut single for their second album, as it pulled directly from the sound that brought them so much success in the past without seeming repetitive. It also does not hurt that the song was incredibly catchy and unique from anything else on country radio making it very memorable to listeners.
“DONE,” the second single off of Pioneer is without a doubt one of the songs that has the most rock influenced sound and production on the entire album. The song is a fast paced, loud, shameless and bold anthem for jilted exes. Throughout the track, Kimberly Perry enthusiastically voices with her usual fervor and attitude, the reasons why she is done with a relationship she was treated poorly in. “DONE” was an excellent choice as a followup single to “Better Dig Two,” and is the type of song that captures the band completely in their element.
The third single off the album, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” has a much softer and less edgy sound then the first two singles, but it still managed to peak in the top ten on the country charts and sell 251,000 copies as of January 2014. The song has great lyrics, a relatable topic and a similar (although somewhat less country) sound to the successful single “All Your Life,” from their previous album.
The fourth and current single from Pioneer “Chainsaw” brings the energy and attitude right back in a big way. Another song about a disgruntled ex, “Chainsaw” uses a clever metaphor of cutting down a tree with a couples initials carved into it with a chain saw to represent the ending of their relationship. This track showcases more discernible vocals from Neil and Ried Perry, who are normally relegated to background vocals and instrument playing, but doesn’t lack any of Kimberly Perry’s signature sass and attitude. “Chainsaw” is truly one of the best and more country sounding songs on the album. The track features a very twangy sound, and a fiddle from beginning to end. It is also another top ten single for the group.
Pioneer already has four singles, so it is not as likely that they will release any more from this album, but if they do some of the top candidates would be the ballad “I Saw A Light,” and “Night Gone Wasted”, a rare (for the group not the genre) foray into a drinking themed song.
Album closer “End of Time” is not a likely single choice, but is one of the best songs on the album. The lilting, somewhat melancholy track is ripe with southern motifs, such as the Alabama moon, sweet tea, cotton fields and bells ringing. The song uses the metaphor of the world ending to portray the feelings of the narrator who just experienced a person that she loves leaving. The slower pace of the song allows Kimberly Perry to showcase the range and versatility of her vocals in a different way then she does on some of The Band Perry’s louder, faster paced songs. The track is more simple and has less production elements, allowing the pleasantness of her voice and her refined vocal skills to carry the song.
The Band Perry would find it difficult to have created a better second album. Like many groups and artists in country, The Band Perry has unmistakable rock and pop influences in their music. What separates them from other groups in country music is having Kimberly Perry as their front woman. Kimberly Perry is very comfortable and confident in her role in the spotlight. Her spunky attitude, boldness, distinctive voice and energy give the trio a significant lift not only on their albums and singles, but in a live setting. The band’s goal with the release of Pioneer was to establish enough continued popularity and success effective in a live setting to justify and sustain a large headlining tour. The mission has been accomplished with the multi-country headlining tour that began November 2013 going through October of 2014. Pioneers has allowed them to become one of the most popular acts in country music, continue their stellar radio success, and develop into one of the best live performers that genre has to offer. Pioneer serves the trio well going forward as one of country music’s premier names, and it is a wonderful template for continued success in their future. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.