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Pearl is an ambitious, soul-tinged departure from Dave B’s previous work, harnessing the energies of a live backing band to gorgeous results. “I don’t recognize the man I’ve become,” he croons, while surrounded by sweeping, spectacular guitar solos on album closer, “Sweetest Thing.” It’s a romantic and bittersweet torch song, like many of them here, that leaves you swooning. In their review, The Seattle Times described Pearl as a breakup record, and it’s true that these songs ponder the pros and cons of singledom, dating, and commitment. But after a year of bad news and presidential oxygen suck, you’ll also hear a strong longing to tune out the Twitter tirades through idle distraction, to say “Fuck it, I just can’t deal,” and binge Nextflix, drink a little too much, and scroll and scroll and scroll through social media. When that dark cloud threatens to overtake you, “whenever you find yourself bored,” that’s when you spin the two-track tour-de-force of “Scrolling” and “Magnum,” the latter an extended outro of the first, bursting with experimentation, screwed, chopped and—for me anyway—heavily on repeat. Dave B has had his world turned upside down this year: Selling out The Neptune, performing on The Tonight Show, and touring across America and Australia. This record demonstrates how much he deserves every accolade and success, with many more to come.

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