I first got into Picturebox 'cause a member of Derrero (David Hirst) was in the band. And while I certainly liked what I heard, and loved subsequent releases, it would be unfair to compare the music here in the Robert Halcrow-led Picturebox with the tune-age of the Welsh act. Picturebox seem to have channeled a whole generation or two's worth of English pop and managed to distill it to the best bits. If I wanted to just cut to the chase, I'd say that the new one, Songs Of Joy, out tomorrow via the link below (for one), is like a Blur album shepherded by Graham Coxon, not Damon Albarn.
That's a bit simplistic but, really, "The Barrow Monkey" sounds remarkably like the sort of thing that Blur were doing on "Coffee and TV" even if opener "Friday Morning 11 AM" pounds like the best Supergrass stuff. "Too Late Now" reaches back to the Syd -years of The Pink Floyd for inspiration, while "Garden Song" sounds like some stuff from Ash Cooke's post-Derrero project, Pulco (and Ash is on the album, by the way). "Speedway Rider" unfurls like a trippy Kinks track...if they ever did any trippy tracks, and the fine "All Day Sunday Morning" nods in the direction of stuff like The Move mixed with elements from the Britpop generation.
Towards the end of Songs Of Joy things get more pastoral for a stretch and Halcrow seems able to pull off both the blissful bits as well as he does the music that is best described as "Beatle-esque" (despite owing more to the peers of Fab Four than the band itself). Halcrow has played some gigs with Pete Astor of The Weather Prophets lately but I'm glad he's got time to craft his own unique music and release it under the Picturebox name. This is fine, fine pop with more than a hint of what one should call English whimsy. Fans of Martin Newell and Blur will dig this a lot.
Follow Picturebox on their official Facebook page. Songs Of Joy is out tomorrow via Gare Du Nord.