I Can’t Fall Asleep
Picastro is a band that’s not afraid to take their time. After forming in 1997, it wasn’t until 2002 that these Toronto natives, led by singer/songwriter Liz Hysen, were able to release their first full-length, Red Your Blues. Three more years have passed and now Picastro has returned with Metal Cares, an album that’s also unafraid of taking its time.Slow and steady wins the race, and in this instance works perfectly for Picastro’s melancholy hymns. Gently nudged forward by Hysen’s delicate voice and restrained interplay between guitar and cello, the songs on Metal Cares drearily flow from one to the next. Sonically this album exists in that space halfway between falling asleep and dreaming. The pacing slow and deliberate, calling to mind a concoction of part Mazzy Star and part Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Songs unfold gradually without coming across too gloomy, and with enough of Hysen’s songwriter persona to keep them from spinning off into endless aural landscapes.
Picastro is able to accomplish beautiful subtlety with their minimalist palette. The guitar and drums create a waltzing flow to “I Can’t Fall Asleep” while the gradual buildup of “Teeth and No Eyes” barely uses more than just the snare, and then only for fleeting accents. The album closes with the magnificent “Blonde Fires” on which the album’s themes come together seamlessly with a hauntingly echoing guitar line augmented by cello.
Metal Cares is not an album of hooks, toe-tapping catchy songs, or sing-along choruses. However, that’s not to say it isn’t a wonderfully well-constructed album that shows off smart songwriting with just enough experimentation to keep the sounds fresh without getting lost.