Joe Pernice’s debut novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, follows the misadventures of a floundering musician as he flees responsibility in mid-’90s Cape Cod. Pernice’s soundtrack to the novel consists of polished, lovely cover versions of songs the protagonist refers to during the book—mostly soft-rock chestnuts like “Chevy Van” and “Hello It’s Me,” along with fragments of newer and older pop numbers like Sebadoh’s “Soul And Fire” and Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cheree.” Conceptually, the album is fairly smart, especially given that Pernice sprinkles in a few spoken-word lines from the novel here and there, describing how the narrator learns to leave music-snobbery aside and let the power of a great song transport and transform him. As a listening experience, It Feels So Good When I Stop plays like a typical Pernice record—as airy and smooth as an untouched pudding cup—only without the bitter lyrics to work against the sweetness. It’s a “personal” record in a way, in that these are songs that signify certain times, places, and moods to Pernice. But just as Pernice’s novel filters his own experiences through a fictional character, so this album is one or two steps removed from a direct expression of self.
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