Shabason as soon as confessed that, earlier than becoming a member of Destroyer, he was “a self-loathing sax player for so long.” His enjoying on Kaputt confirmed him that audiences “truly wish to hear a saxophone solo.” Recent Pepper relishes the thought. The album completely teems with Shabason’s tasty sax stylings—dueling with wafty keys on “New Methods of Chopping Onions,” simmering softly across the edges of the sighing bliss of “Congee Round Me,” taking a extra menacing and processed tone on “Dishpit.”
Like a lot of Destroyer’s work, the report flirts with smooth-jazz kitsch; generally it crosses over too far, as on the antiseptic “The Worm” with its full-on Richard Marx mid-’80s sheen, however there may be by no means the faintest whiff of ironic detachment. Recent Pepper was recorded in-person throughout a lull between COVID restrictions, and the musicians clearly enjoy one another’s presence, enjoying jazz that’s light and light-weight however by no means stagnant or settled.
At occasions, Recent Pepper feels a bit too torpid, too light to summon the indignities of an business identified for grinding hours and rampant exploitation. Instrumental items like “Walkin’” and the avant-jazzy “Dishpit” (named after the menial nook of the kitchen the place dishes are stacked) are the one tracks that seize that air of hustle and bustle, and the latter feels prefer it was orphaned from certainly one of Shabason’s solo data.
At its greatest, although, Recent Pepper evokes the calm after the storm, the camaraderie and sense reminiscences that linger after a restaurant shift is over. Arguably the best tune on right here, “Congee Round Me” finds our narrator frying mushrooms and onions, solely to disclose that he’s been fired and is now on his personal. Surprisingly, the observe—with its sense of nourishment and care, of cooking for or with somebody you’re keen on—jogs my memory of that fantastic scene in Large Night time, the 1996 Stanley Tucci movie, the place the 2 brothers (Tucci and Tony Shalhoub) wordlessly share an omelet and reconcile after a fraught night time of their floundering restaurant. Generally, essentially the most significant balm after cooking for indignant strangers is cooking for your self, simply the way in which you prefer it.