Become Secret


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Become Secret Review

by Ned Raggett

Picastro's fourth album finds Liz Hysen and her bandmates again tackling preconceptions of what a rock band is supposed to be -- calling Become Secret a chamber pop album isn't really accurate, but it's hard to hear it as anything but an exploration in the tension between Hysen's compelling vocals and the varied instrumentation throughout. The slocore tag Picastro received early on in some corners has a vague relevance, but on a song like "Pig & Sucker," the sense of compelling, unsettled strangeness is much greater than most bands could pull off. Even with a straightforward-enough lyric and performance, the quality of Hysen's singing and the tactile feeling of the guitar suggest the unearthly feeling of Charalambides far more than a confessional rock song. The simultaneously jaunty and melancholy piano on the opening "Twilight Parting" sets the tone for the album, a sense of extremities constantly working against each other. It can be heard in the tape hiss and found-sound clatter at the end of "A Dune a Doom," the foghorn drone squalls underpinning the arrangement of "Neva," and the powerful, strange singing and piano on "A Neck in the Desert." "Suttee," with its titular reference to the practice of widows perishing at the funerals of their husbands, shows that this sense of pushing the limits isn't restricted to the music -- it's a live-in-the-studio stompalong, but when the vocals sing "You will never love again," the finality suggested is hardly comforting.

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