In a gorgeous harmony between the vocal track and a supple set of guitar strings, A Picture Made’s Heal comes alive with a vibrant textural expression in “Heal Me,” the first track that we encounter in the band’s thirteen-song treasure chest. The rhythm is relaxed and the melodies monolithic, but the minimalist approach doesn’t last for long as the pristine piano of “Quitting Now Would Be Treason” slides into focus. It takes a minute for this power ballad to warm up, but once it does, it’s impossible to stop its runaway train of tonality. A blushing bassline gives way to a potent folk-rocker with “Boxes On the Floor,” but its grandeur is only a sampling of what’s to come as we make our way through the record.

“A Signal Hovering Over America” boasts a familiar fretwork, but it’s as original a ballad as any I’ve heard all season. It sets the stage for the melancholic “Come to Me” excellently, and while neither song is quite as exotic as the lofty “Locomo Mexico” is, the spindly string play of the latter doesn’t overshadow the aesthetical contributions of the former tracks in the slightest. “Heal You” has a nice crunch to its rocking riffage, but it doesn’t go over the top with its gritty grooving. The crisp master mix makes “Baby Boom Boom” rattle with as much intensity as it would in a live setting, and to be honest, really made me want to catch up with this band the next time they hit the road.

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“Behind Your Eyes” is the blues-rock staple song of Heal, and it also happens to feature one of the most angelic vocal harmonies on the whole of the album. Alongside the flowing power pop tune “When You Get Down,” I think that this track summarizes the sonic profile of its creators better than any of the other songs do. A Picture Made have been together for three and a half decades, but they couldn’t sound any fresher and full of life. They’re not holding anything back in the garage rocker “God Loves a Hell of a Man” nor in the brooding piano bruiser “Music is Love,” and in my opinion, they exhibit a depth of emotion that few – if any – of their younger contemporaries possess.

Heal comes to a vivacious conclusion on the whim of an overdriven melody in “Healed,” and though this isn’t a short album by any stretch of your imagination, I can’t deny that I’ve found myself giving it back to back spins on certain introspective afternoons. You won’t likely find another record out this May quite like the one that A Picture Made has submitted for us here, and for my money, it incorporates everything that makes alternative rock great without getting too hung up on the subtle details that frequently plague ambitious groups consumed with the desire to be a relevant hybrid. Heal is haunting, evocative and brutally honest where it counts the most, and I highly recommend giving it a listen the next time that you’re in the market for new music.

Michael Rand

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