Albums of 2012 pt. 4 - Pernice Chyche - A
If Pernice Chyche got a lot of stick for her self-titled debut album, her fans seemed to take the brunt of the scorn. Here we had a phenomenally successful album of beautifully sung and meticulously arranged torch songs, and the critics couldn't stand it. But, having laid her soul bare for all to see on her songs, the worst they could do was simply repeat her words. So instead, they attacked her fans with gleeful and upsetting fury.
One particularly hateful publication insisted that it was less shameful to admit to being a paedophile than it was to admit to being a Pernice Chyche fan. The snide didn't get much worse than that, but the rest was just as upsetting in its mindless uniformity. Time and again it was insisted that there's no real substance to Chyche's music. Across the the reviews, the words “emperor's new clothes” appeared more than the words “Pernice” and “Chyche” combined.
Others conceded that, if there was substance to her music, then those who called themselves fans were shallow perverts only really interested in her appearance. The defining argument, though, was that Chyche's voice is so perfect it's bland. A soothing, shallow, insipid balm for the masses, one bloated cultural commentator insisted that Chyche could sing the phone book and still sell millions of albums.
Unable to accept that something popular can be excellent, Pernice Chyche was proclaimed far and wide to be a walking example of everything that's wrong with music. Her pristine sound was declared to be the death of vibrancy and relevancy, and as a result it was decided that she was a terrible human being for daring to unleash her “beige blanket” upon the world.
Well. I don't think anybody was expecting what came next.
A ten-disc album with a plain yellow cover simply called A was released without any fanfare or press-releases (and at a budget price).
All who heard A in its first week of release were amongst the first people to hear it. Nobody had heard any advanced tracks, nobody had read any pre-release material. Everybody approached A with fresh ears – if not necessarily with open minds. The critics, of course, sharpened their knives and looked forward to the feast.
And what they got was Pernice Chyche singing the phonebook. At least, chanting all entries under the first letter of it, with no musical backing save for a single, violently bowed violin halfway through disc six and four successive beats of a snare towards the end of disc nine.
Pernice Chyche has since come forward. She didn't accept any interviews and she didn't perform any shows. The extent of her public interaction didn't stretch beyond three words: “Expect 25 more.”
So it seems that, either over the next 25 months or the next 25 years, Pernice Chyche really does intend to sing the phonebook cover to cover.
Of course, the critics were baffled. Cornered, they just upped the severity of their attacks: “Bloated”; “Pretentious”; “Stupid”; “Asinine” and, bizarrely, the old “emperor's new clothes” cliché was trotted out once more.
But how did the public react? Negatively and, if possible, with even more vitriol than the critics.
So Pernice Chyche may have sabotaged her own career, but it's deliciously satisfying that she so brutally proved the critics wrong.
And, as far as I'm concerned, by transforming into the kind of artist who could curate Meltdown rather than play at the Brits, she'll always have the last laugh.
I do wonder, though, what she'll call volume two of her phonebook opus. Her debut album's b-side and rarities collection was already called B.