REVIEWER – GRAEME WRIGHT
The thing I’ve loved the most since returning to the music writing scene after many years away is discovering bands that are completely new to me and daring to try something different. thePicassos are impossible to pigeonhole, and ultimately they shine out like a beacon of light amongst the sea of music that I receive on a daily basis. The band describe themselves as a Gothic/Death Folk band of occult practitioners who hail from the shadows of Detroit, but even that description doesn’t do justice to the wide variety of styles featured on this record. The changes of tone and genre between songs constantly keep the listener on their toes and the obvious influences of horror cinema and literature immediately resonated with me as a big fan of that genre.
After delving a bit deeper into the band’s background, more than one commentator has described their live shows as being almost Musical theatre, with the band asking the audience to join hands during their set to sing along with incantations and to communicate with the dead. This attitude seeps through on this album, so what can you expect if you decide to give this one a whirl?
Opener ‘Wicker Casket’ is an almost mellow Gothic song with an echoey vocal tonality and complex and clever layering that immediately resonated with this writer. It’s a beautiful, ethereal song that is a big portent of things to come. ‘Leather Wings (The Blood Is Life)’ is almost stoner music, the type I would play after returning home from a night out at the local Goth/Metal club after a few beers and lyrically it takes its cue (I suspect) from Stokers Dracula and Leviticus.
‘Thousand Eyes Restrict’ continues in the same vein and although they don’t really sound like them I am occasionally reminded of Modest Mouse, both acoustically and percussion-wise. This is probably the most traditional-sounding Goth song on the album and is a prime example of how this music should be played in this day and age. The production style gives it a modern twist to make it sound absolutely relevant in today’s market. We are back to Bram Stoker with ‘Children Of The Night’ and it’s another impeccable and mournful song, which is followed by the first big left turn of the album, ‘Dolarhyde ( Do You See?)’ which proves that this band can rock out with the best of them. It’s heavy Goth/Punk with a big back line and a 70’s style US Punk Rock guitar sound that drives this Silence Of The Lambs-inspired track right along and it’s probably my favourite song on the album.
‘Sixth Sense’ shifts gear again and is almost Industrial in its nature with a down-mixed production sound and echoey vocals that are both energetic and original. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on this band along comes ‘Weird Sisters’, which has an almost twenties gin joint sound to it and is more in line with another of my favourite recent discoveries, The Bridge City Sinners. It’s bold and bouncy and I loved it to bits, particularly the twanging strings background. ‘Serious Business’ continues to dabble in this Jazz/Old school blues hybrid sound and is another great track that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.
‘Under The Floorboards (With You)’ has an almost fifties rock and roll vibe to it at times, while ‘This Is Not Elegance’ is heavy, ominous and unsettling. Next up we are in John Landis territory with ‘Slaughtered Lamb’ (stick to the road, boys) which starts slowly and builds and builds during its five-minute running time to a fiery and ambitious climax. The record closes out with ‘Go Dark’ which finishes the proceedings in fine style with its melodic and immediate main hook and chorus.
In conclusion, this is a great album. A brave band who aren’t afraid to take chances, the songwriting is exemplary and if you are looking for something that is different and original that gets its hooks into you on the very first listen you can’t go wrong here. Whether you like Metal, Goth, Synth, Punk or Industrial music there is something here for you. Highly recommended and of the highest calibre, give these boys a shot and get the word out if you like what you hear.
Charles Urban – Lead Vocals/Guitar
Thorin Murphy-Fahlgren – Drums/Accordion/Banjo/Percussion/Backing Vocals
Dan Lowe – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Joe Duprey – Keyboards/Synth/Piano/Backing Vocals
- Wicker Casket
- Leather Wings (the blood is the life)
- Thousand Eyes Restrict
- Children Of The Night
- Dolarhyde (do you see?)
- Sixth Sense
- Weird Sisters
- Serious Business
- Under The Floorboards (With You)
- This Is Not Elegance
- Slaughtered Lamb
- Go Dark