Stimulus: Pictures of Then – And the Wicked Sea
From the Twin Cities, Pictures of Then is a band which mixes strutting rock with soft-spoken piano and guitar balladry, throwing in a little country twang when the mood demands. The catchiest song in the collection is “When It Stings,” a track set to full strut and wail, accented by buzzing synths which serve as the most restrained element in a song that has lost its shit.
When it tones things down, Pictures of Then is at its best in the stately “Lands Uncharted,” which closes the album with stoic piano. “Stuck” is a lonely tune which swims between jangles of guitar and drops of piano, and “Ahead” carries on that mood with a little more space but no less gravity.
When the scales are set, the band’s softness outweighs its swagger. “When It Stings” is a fantastic song, but the rest of the album’s strut can fall short at times. The quiet, however, can be epic.
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