Lou & Peter Berryman,
The Pink One
(Cornbelt, 2003)

The Pink One is a very cute album. Cotton-candy pink, with scrapbooked covers of Lou and Peter Berryman declaring the title and boasting about the tiny lyrics in brightly colored voice balloons, it looks like nothing so much as a children's album. And there's no reason the Berrymans wouldn't be entertaining to children. Their sound is as sugary sweet as the candy-pink package would suggest. The lyrics are bouncy and playful, with memorable, repeated choruses and many tacit encouragements for audience participation. The duet packs bouncy rhythms with marshmallow melodies and an old-fashioned vocal delivery reminiscent of nothing so much as an old Merrie Melodies cartoon.

Songs like the purely silly "Mr. and Mrs. Noah" and the affectionate duet "Forsythia" fit in with that impression, delivering charming wordplay that wouldn't offend or too much confuse a day-care crowd. But the album bookends with far more representative songs: the opening "After Life Goes By," a reluctant agnostic's lament over the problems of fate, and the snarky, downright cynical final piece, "Amalgamated Gigawatt McGoo," a paean to the dubious wonders of corporate amalgamation and consumer choice. These songs have a delayed burn, hidden in the cheerful delivery and always playful lyrical structure.

It may be a bit presumptuous to accuse the dog's-eye view of life offered by "Ralph to Rose" of challenging the social hierarchy, but the skewered social mores offered up by "Metropolitan Scruples" makes you wonder. Like Tom Paxton, the Berrymans have a gift for delivering cynical and sometimes rather subversive views with innocent language and goofy, playful tunes. Lou's almost falsetto chirp and Peter's open guitar playing work together to suggest that even when the songs are serious, they're not too serious, and the contrastingly upbeat presentation leaves the lyrics to make their point free of heavy-handed musical stings.

The Pink One is a double-sided album in one disc, offering the honey sweetness of "Alphabet Polka" and the honeybee sting of "Family Car" in a uniformly bright and appealing style. It's an album the whole family can enjoy, the kids for the bouncy word games and hopeful tunes, the adults for the coherent commentary layered in those cheerfully delivered lyrics. Or maybe the other way around; even a card-carrying grown-up is going to have a hard time resisting the urge to play along with The Pink One.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 21 August 2004

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