Thursday, March 13, 2014

Picastro: "You" (album review)

Being artistic doesn't always translate into being good.  You, the forthcoming album from Toronto's Picastro (out March 11th), is a reminder of this.

I've read the band's style described as "...caught between Elliott Smith and Godspeed You! Black Emperor" (Pitchfork), and to be fair there are hints of both in the music.  Unfortunately, Picastro tends to glom onto the least accessible parts of those artists' sounds without being able to round it into shape with complementary elements.

Picastro don't spend nearly enough time trying to set a mood.  They seem to attempt it on tracks like the ominous "Vampires", but for the most part they fail to A cello leads you through a twisting, creeping thicket on "Two Woman".  It's a haunting, slightly uncomfortable folk sounds that Timber Timbre has done much better.

The stripped down mopey "State Man" is as close to Elliott Smith as the band comes, and to be fair it's a decent facsimile.

The group does do some intriguing experiments with tempo, the time-shifting "Temur" being the most compelling.  Other attempts to control the mood through tempo, such as "That's It I Mean It", are merely plodding.

The album's low point is "Judas Claim".  The squealed vocals make the track next to unlistenable (and certainly unenjoyable).

You is an ambitious album.  Picastro are trying to make a statement with it.  However, it's clear pretty consistently throughout that their vision is grander than their accomplishment.

Picastro play Cinecycle in Toronto on April 9th.

Best tracks: "Two Woman", "State Man"

Track listing for You:
  • Mountain/Relief
  • Two Woman
  • Endlessly
  • Vampires
  • That's It I Mean It
  • Temur
  • Judas Claim
  • State Man
  • Baron In the Trees
  • February

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