In the four years since the release of Pernice Brothers’ last studio album, Live A Little, bandleader Joe Pernice has written a novel and recorded an album of cover songs as a “soundtrack” to that novel. He also recorded another Pernice Brothers album, in pieces, around the other work. That may explain why Goodbye, Killer sounds more scattered than the previous Pernice Brothers albums; where before, Pernice strove for a unified mood, Goodbye, Killer lurches from the band’s usual lush pop to songs that sound more like British Invasion as filtered through The Smithereens, as well as songs that call back to Pernice’s alt-country roots, but with a twist of cabaret. The eclecticism is jarring—especially on an album that’s only 32 minutes long—but the songs are frequently superb, in particular the literate rocker “Jacqueline Susann,” the gleefully kitschy two-stepper “We Love The Stage,” the delicate folk-rock ballad “The End Of Faith,” and the stately, declarative “The Loving Kind,” which sounds like it was co-written with the ghosts of Roy Orbison and George Harrison. And with the soft, Glen Campbell-like “Newport News,” Pernice charts a possibly fruitful new path for future records, threading the disparate strands of past influences into something sturdy. That is, if he doesn’t get sidetracked.

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