Review Summary: Organic, kinda post-rocky. An intense and satisfying release.
I guess some people call Picastro ‘Sleep rock’. It’s an appropriate term probably, seeing as though the music’s pretty, uh, sleepy. Not that you would want to sleep through it, or that it would put you to sleep if you listened to it. Nah, Whore Luck is actually a pretty interesting album. In a way it reminds of post-rock, another one of those iffy genres. The difference here is that Picastro don’t build up blindly or climax every song in some pseudo-dramatic fashion. Restraint isn’t the most overly used word in the post-rock reviewer’s vocabulary, nor does it have to be, seeing as though so many of the genre’s groups use the same “quiet and pretty builds up to extremely loud and pretty” formula. But it seems to be the word of the day here. Now, I’m not going to come out and say Picastro revolutionized a genre with Whore Luck, and I’m not going to overly praise their originality, nor scorn them for a lack there of. The bottom line is it’s a good CD, great even, and I’m going to talk about it more.
Like the majority of good CDs, Whore Luck has stand-outs, songs that are far and away better than their contemporaries. ‘All Erase’ is probably the most post-rock moment the album ever meets. It’s cataclysmic, intense, dissonant, and Liz Hysen’s somber moan is what holds it all together. One thing that surprises me about Whore Luck every time I listen to it is the quality of the production and how organic and homey everything feels. It really recalls a Femme-fronted Xiu Xiu (Jamie Stewart even stops by for a guest appearance on a cover of the Fall’s An Older Lover, Etc.) but the strings and the acoustic instrumentation the album utilizes say nay. It’s also intense in a completely different manner: whereas Stewart’s soul-baring lyrics and naked vocals drive Xiu Xiu’s intensity, it’s Picastro’s instrumentation, not necessarily their words, that do it for them. ‘Car Sleep’ exudes the same passion, the same dissonance, as All Erase, but boasts a more contemporary form and a catchier chorus, if catchy is even the word to describe it. It’s definitely another stand-out.
Restraint was something I talked about early on in this review, and it’s something one can really respect Picastro for. On ‘Hortur’, the music certainly does see a build-up, a striking increase in tension, volume, whatever. But instead of giving in to whatever instincts one would have and letting everything explode into frivolous noise, Picastro remain on their haunches, letting tension build up and supplementing that with a small serving of poignant chord changes. It might not be the most satisfying music to listen to: after all, even the hippest of hipsters loves to blow his load on some swelling strings and crashing cymbals, but damn if this isn’t good. You’re not going to feel the same rush of endorphins here as would on an Explosions in the Sky record, but I think it’s far more worth it to be able to sit back and appreciate the superior production and quality of each song than to wait in hopes that the next climax will be even louder and more exciting than the last.