In this skip-and-stride ode to inebriation (and, yes, the glorious morning after), The Bernadettes attack an ages-old motif with a primal, jokey-but-not-hokey energy.
Different people, different drunks.
The same can be said of recovery (or of unshackling from spirits) and its remembering: the guilt pangs, the gnawing regret, the clarity that barely beats the bell. Inebriation is art’s one great equalizer, and we know it. Drink is (thankfully, just not for the next two weeks) accessible, budget-fluid, and fairly no-fuss. It can fuel rhyming couplets, surrealist cinema, or, in this case, a languid rocker like “Sober.”
For indie vets The Bernadettes, an ode to drink need not be inundated with hokey romanticism. Their newest single may not have balls-out chord changes, and its melody may not make you want to write home, but that’s okay. It’s done in that jokey garage idiom—the band’s mother tongue, if we’re being real; one they call “drunk pop” in their socials—that’s enjoyable, relatable, and far from the self-conscious pomp of their more dour-faced counterparts.
Singer Paolo Angeles shares, “The song is about waking up with a bad hangover. Your breath stinks, your body aches, and your head feels like [it will split] into two explosive pieces.” What follows is not so much recovery but a kind of purposeful retribution: one which says, sure, a fleeting out-of-body episode is its own reward, but revelry in recollection is its only logical epilogue.
To me topical material like this begs the question of what scene—if this were, say, a sequence in a film that’s annotated via voice-over—it attempts to paint. Angeles suggests a host of possibilities (alluding to “How happy everyone was. The kinky fun. The kooky sexiness”), each one hitting the nail on the head.
More than a decade after their signature track “Let’s Make Babies” hit public consciousness, The Bernadettes is still imbued with the same vigor and irreverence (qualities that were also on generous display in last year’s comeback single “Worthless Beautiful”), and in a world of caustic caution, these remain worthy of being celebrated and championed.
An accompanying video for “Sober” (dedicated to the band’s late bassist Don Soguilon, who passed away in May 2019) is also slated for release today. Largely a character study, the clip’s got lo-fi grit and a lumbering literalism that’s a real glass-shoe fit for the tune.