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The Amazing - Picture You CD (album) cover

PICTURE YOU

The Amazing

 

Crossover Prog

3.88 | 12 ratings

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BrufordFreak
4 stars I've been listening to Picture You long enough now to note that it is . . . different than 2011's masterpiece and my Favorite Album of my favorite year of progressive rock music, Gentle Stream. Picture You has more reverb in the vocals, a greater presence of keyboards, more prominent female vocals, and, I guess, a greater diversity of sound and song palette--which sounds like a winning combination, right? It could be, but I can't honestly say that I like Picture You as much as Gentle Stream. There are some great high points and no terrible low points but something about Gentle Stream just sucks me in and holds me warm and excited--to this day, even.

1. "Broken" (5:04) opens with an amazing sound and not one but two very catchy CURE-like guitar riffs. The vocals a are a bit back in the mix, but are accompanied by some wonderful background vocals--female included! Not quite THE CLIENTELE but definitely reaching back for more of that 70s warmth. The slow down, soft down, outro part that begins at 3:40 is quite unexpected and quite gorgeous--the vocals wafting and weaving delightfully among each other. (9/10)

2. "Picture You" (9:27) opens with not one, but two very engaging chord riffs before the song tempo and vocal enter. The guitar arpeggio once again reminds me of JESSE COLIN YOUNG, the voice like that of former Fleetwood Mac guitarist, BOB WELCH, on his late-1977 album, French Kiss (remember his monster hit, "Sentimental Lady"?). The instrumental section that begins at 4:30 begins simply enough with slow-changing guitar chords played as two- or three-note arpeggios but gradually building support from the rest of the band, with Reine Fiske's atmospheric work staying fairly far in the background. Drummer Moussa Fadera's jazz-lleanings are given nice room for show. Though this is a nine and a half minute song, it speeds by incredibly fast. And I just can't get enough of it! (10/10)

3. "Circles" (6:23) mellows things down quite a little. Guitars, organ, slow pace, catchy guitar riffs, gorgeous female-backed vocals from Christoffer Gunrup, it even blesses us with a gorgeous all-accoustic guitar outro from three guitars. It would seem that this song has no flaws save nothing that shocks or shakes you, only that it is a perhaps a bit too sleepy pretty. (9/10)

4. "Safe Island" (8:35) sounds as if we're being taken underwater: even the drums that are, I believe, here meant to be central and showy are somehow muted or softened by recording effects. At 5:30 Reine and Christoffer take us into a three minute ride into outer space with their complementary guitar and keyboard/ computer effects (Christoffer going psychedelic prog? Oh, my!) (8/10)

5. "Keep It Going" (5:43) reminds me of a kind of floating interlude, meant to give the audience a little nap before going into Side Two. A little monotonous and soporific. But still pretty. (7/10)

6. "Fryshusfunk" (7:29) is a Reine Fiske showcase very much in the vein of his work on LANDBERK's last two albums before that band's dissolution. A slow jazz-pop PAUL WELLER/STYLE COUNCIL-like foundation and structure works pretty well for the first two minutes, but the real meat of the song (for me, REINE FISKE junkie that I am) takes off after that 2:15-2:35 bridge. The heavy, blues-rock section that begins at 5:00 is hypnotic like a whirlpool, but also like Charybdis, the whirlpool of the Straits of Messina, it is deceptively dangerous as it threatens to suck you in. (9/10)

7. "Tell Them You Can't Leave" (4:08) shows the band backing off a bit on the reverb. This is the first song on Picture You that sounds like it could have come straight off of Gentle Stream. What is disappointing is the song's lack of melodic hook--in the vocals or in the guitar play. At times it almost sounds like it's trying to go BLUE OYSTER CULT "Don't Fear the Reaper." But . . . it doesn't. The drumming, b vox and acoustic guitar strumming are, for me, the most interesting parts of this song. (7/10)

8. "The Headless Boy" (4:02) sounds very much like an early EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL (first decade era) song, with Ben on lead vocal and Tracey on harmonies. Nice song but it would not have been one of the songs to make my "EBTG Faves" playlist. Instead, it is rather innocuous and forgettable. (7/10)

9. "Captured Light" (8:13) opens with some CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG power and distortion. Then harmonized voices! This is cool! The bass is awesome. I really enjoy the weave of layered voices despite their difficult-to-discern lyrics. Though the vocals veer the song more into the territory of THE ASSOCIATION, the instrumental part definitely stay strongly reminiscent of CSN&Y. At 3:34 a keyboard-generated strings sound slowly descends eight notes before roller-coasting to the end of a fourth measure where it starts over, repeating its infectious hook for the next two minutes. At 5:45 the song takes a rather odd and incongruous turn to an all acoustic guitar format with Christoffer singing among them. This to the end. A bit of a letdown. I really liked the CSN&Y/ASSOCIATION blend. (9/10)

10. "Winter Dress" (5:28) builds itself around a slide guitar riff that gets repeated and throughout the song behind Christoffer's ROBERT SMITH-like mumbled lyrics. The drum play is, for once, played fairly straight on and recorded well into the mix. I like the guitars being up front and the clarity of the bass, drums, and acoustic guitars. I guess this might be the key for me: less "under water" music, less distortion and reverb (though I love reverb!), more return to the folk rock sounds of Gentle Stream. (9/10)

Where Gentle Stream elicited warmth and inclusion and familiarity, I think that the muddiness of parts of Picture You kind of holds one at a distance, isolates the listener from feeling included in the music. I'm not sure of the band's intentions with Picture You, but, thought there is still some great music here, it is not nearly as engaging and energizing as the all-out jams Christoffer, Reine and the boys were luring us in with their end-of-song interplay throughout Gentle Stream.

Four stars.

I forgot to mention how much I enjoy the stepped up presence and effect of the keyboards.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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