According to the discourse on LinkedIn, pivoting career paths and reinventing yourself during the pandemic is all the rage. But Gabriel Bernini has long seemed disinterested in making the same record twice.
Coming up in the perpetually thriving Western Massachusetts scene, Bernini was a founding member of LuxDeluxe and a keyboardist for Deer Tick before decamping to Los Angeles to continue recording solo albums and fall in with the city’s alt-comedy scene. After his unassumingly titled but promising debut Gabe’s Album in 2018, Bernini was readying an even more ambitious record called Sweeties when, by his own admission, he accidentally wrote and released another album instead. That project, 2019’s Record for Bailey, pared down Album’s intricacies while reintroducing Bernini as an assured heartland rock troubadour with an innate gift for power-pop hooks. Sweeties eventually arrived the following year, pulling closer to Bernini’s psych-rock impulses—but Bailey hinted at a loose, rootsier sound that gets a chance to sprawl across You Got Me.
“I wrote You Got Me in my first apartment in LA…it was the first time in a while that I had nowhere to record new songs as I developed them,” Bernini recalls in a press release. Hammered out on acoustic guitar, the bones of You Got Me were fleshed out in Massachusetts over a marathon three-day recording session, pulling local power pop micro-legend Sweat Enzo and a cast of family and local friends into the fold. What came out of that long weekend is a record as unfussed as daydrinking on a friend of a friend’s porch, drunk on chooglin’ rock to the point of making an album that feels like a lost classic of the era.
Most songs on You Got Me sputter to life with studio banter and players finding their cue, but Bernini acts as a more than capable bandleader in making the ramshackle feel warm and inviting. “We’re rolling and we’re making it sweet and it’s beautiful,” Bernini intros candidly at the start of “Honeybee,” his Petty-esque delivery never sounding more at home as the band sings back lines about lovers cooking supper. If the triad of songs that begin with the word “Love” didn’t give it away, You Got Me is a record about “falling in love so much so that you can’t believe you ever had feelings for anyone else,” but it’s undeniable that Bernini also recorded a love letter to friends and the earnest power of impromptu jamming all the same.
You Got Me is out on Friday via Dadstache Records and Requested Records, but you can stream it in full below.