# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Picturebox - Graffiti

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 16 / 12 / 2014

Picturebox - Graffiti
Label: Gare du Nord Records
Format: CDS


Offbeat but totally irresistible new EP from Canterbury-based psychedelic-influenced indie pop act, Picturebox

Every once in a while, I get into a habit of reviewing every release on one particular label. I'm always worried that people will notice I'm doing this, and assume the label concerned have either a) discovered a dark secret from my past or b) bought me lunch. Let's be clear. I wouldn't turn down lunch. But, what is actually happening is that when you find a brilliant, under-heralded band, you tend to find that the label responsible release lots of other music too, and one thing leads to the next. That's what is happening with Gare du Nord. They view themselves as a collective, rather than a traditional label, a vehicle for songwriters Robert Rotifer, Ian Button and Ralegh Long to release their own music. Soon, though, they have expanded to include others, first Alex Highton and now Picturebox, a band from Canterbury who I suspect would have remained a 'local' band were it not for Gare du Nord's patronage. This EP precedes a new album, due for release in early 2015. Picturebox set their stall out effectively with the title of their 2010 release, 'Canterbury Lo-Fi', but – if this taster is anything to go on – the new album will be a step on from their excellent last record 'Home Taping'. That found Picturebox exploring a gentle brand of psych-pop, embellished with a variety of bleeps and blobs and only occasionally by the normally ubiquitous distortion pedal. XTC, Martin Newell, Lightning Seeds and Super Furry Animals seemed like obvious reference points. That doesn't seem to have changed for this new record – but there does seem to be a greater sense of daring. The only original song here, 'Graffiti', is a rip-roaring blast of indie-pop with a pleasant keyboard solo. It's catchy and simple. You sense that choosing a song that only just makes it past the minute mark as the only representative of the new album is designed to ensure not too much is given away too soon. Next up comes the EP's strongest track. A cover of fellow Canterbury songwriter Luke Smith's ‘Giving It All I've Got’, it's a silly but irresistible blend of indiepop, 60s psych and 80s pop. This finds Picturebox mainman Robert Halcrow living up to the song's title by packing in the whole of his bag of tricks into one song. A series of increasingly bizarre keyboard effects cascade through the song, interspersed by occasional bursts of feedback and a robot voice. Emily Kennedy then pops up with a spoken word vocal interlude, before we get a brief burst of what sounds like the 'tension building' music from an early evening quiz show, some frenzied toy piano chords and then the chorus again. Does that description make it sound good? I doubt it. But it is. Less successful is Halcrow's bizarre cover of Papernut Cambridge's signature tune 'Papernut Cambridge', where a strange high-pitched robot voice sings something that doesn't resemble the original tune, backed with car-horns and laughter. There may be a point to this, but it isn't immediately evident. You won't be playing it more than once. The last track is a cover of the Lemonhead' ‘lovely 'Bit Part', which is back in the indiepop territory of the lead track and works perfectly. Emily Kennedy pops up again, singing Juliana Hatfield's part. (Halcrow has himself written two songs about Juliana Hatfield – she seems to be something of an obsession for him). So, we have eight minutes of music, three songs to play on repeat and one that I hope to erase permanently from my memory, and at the end of all that, barely any idea what the upcoming album will sound like. Excellent!

Track Listing:-
1 Graffiti
2 Giving It All I've Got
4 Bit Part

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