A project led by U.K. singer/songwriters Josienne Clarke and Samantha Whates, PicaPica present an artful mixture of minimalist indie pop and pastoral folk whose focal point is the frontwomen's synergistic harmonies and quirky rhythmic counterpoints. Rounding out the quartet are multi-instrumentalists Adam Beattie, a respected songwriter in his own right, and Sonny Johns, a veteran musician and engineer who also acts as the band's producer. Over the previous decade, Clarke and her regular collaborator, Ben Walker, have risen to the upper crust of the British folk scene while Whates has established herself as both a solo artist and sought-after session vocalist. As PicaPica, this assembled crew arrives with a deep pool of talent on their 2019 full-length debut, Together & Apart. Backed here by drummer Seb Rochford (Polar Bear), the band's songwriting is far more percussion-driven than on their spare and charming Spring & Shade EP, which came out in 2017. While this makes for some interesting dynamic highlights like "Cast in Stone" and the shifting cyclical pop of "SeeSaw," it also draws greater attention to the repetitive nature of so many of PicaPica's arrangements which tend to wear thin after a while. Too often, the songs rely on the relentless push and pull between the two singers, a trick that occasionally dazzles, but more often than not plays out in an oddly hollow barrage of clever art-pop looking for a solid song to attach itself to. In theory, PicaPica are an inspired collective of musicians with plenty of potential, but they miss the mark on this meandering debut.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger