New Strains of Sorrow
Though it is not even the middle of the year, one could guess that you would be hard pressed to find a more bleak sounding album that Toronto-based Picastro’s fifth long player, You. That is not a criticism of any sort, but a seemingly ever present symptom of the music here. True, though one has come to associate the band’s name with this kind of mood, one must be perpetually befuddled when a new strain of it appears.
However, just like any other media, a sad yarn can be woven in a beautiful way, and for its part, You has quite a bit of substance to its sadness. Take a song like the wavering, violin anchored “Endlessly.” The pensive groove builds over a ghostly but catchy vocal by frontwoman Liz Hysen and exists in their thoroughly contemplative mood for a deceptively short three minutes.
In cases such as this, the genuine emotion you hear accounts for the really affecting music, while a song like “Vampires” seems like an experimental demo. It sounds half a step behind its partners in terms of bringing emotional content to the forefront. Compare that to the downright spooky intro vocals of “Judas Claim,” which twist and echo around each other in a most uncomfortable way.
Still, neither finds that perfect formula of invention and emotion that something like “Endlessly” or the fully fleshed out seven and a half minute epic, “Baron in the Trees” does, which finds Picastro at its most “playful” (relatively speaking) with different moody sections tied together with simple, but affecting percussion.
Most of You is at least interesting, and the best stuff here is worth re-investigating if you are in the proper mindset, but everything on the album indicates that Picastro are veterans who know their sound and are refining the ways in which they affect. In this regard, they do so with the kind of flair one would equate with a single flame lighting in a darkened room.