Pearie Sol: Real Happiness  CD / CS   (HHBTM Records)

Release date: June 18, 2021

Bio: In the time when things could still be seen, you might have seen Pearie Sol, keyboardist for DC-area rockers Gauche. Times being as they are, many musical projects have been put on hold, with members having to seek new outlets for their creative talents. For Pearie Sol, his new solo album, Real Happiness—which, he assures us, is not quite a lockdown album, having been conceived largely in 2019.

On first listen, Real Happiness might make you smile. And how could you resist the charm of the dramatic, over-the-top Fred Schneider-like vocals of “Apathy” the jaunty, junkyard Jad Fair-isms of “Slime Pit,” or the catchy, danceable title track? Pearie’s flamboyant, over-the-top style is fun personified and vocalized and all those things in between.

But don’t be fooled; Real Happiness reveals something upon second listen: a very emotional, somewhat melancholic album about life and the frustrations with the foibles of human interaction. Like a cabaret new wave Pagliacci, Pearie Sol’s songs reveal the tears of a clown. Just listen to those last few songs on the record; gone is the cuteness, and Pearie Sol focuses straight on emotion: it’s not wrong of us to say that “Marched On” and “November Frost” deliver powerful showtune ballads a la John Cameron Mitchell with a lyrical style reminiscent of Scott Walker’s first four albums.

And yet, don’t let the melancholy scare you, either; Real Happiness isn’t a sad record, by any means. Instead, it’s a real record documenting real emotions and feelings and observations of a young man living every day of his life the best he can—good or bad, happy or sad. That he’s allowed us to peek into his Real Happiness is an honor one should not take for granted.