Pictures Paint Words - Sinking Ships and Tallest Towers (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Pictures Paint Words

Sinking Ships and Tallest Towers (2008)

Pipe Lane / Russian Roulette

Pictures Paint Words is a quintet from Warwickshire, a centrally located county in England. Though they've been cited as having a bit of an affinity for local predecessors I've never heard of like Spy Versus Spy, Itch and Greenacre, Americans like me who aren't up to speed on the UK underground will resonate warmly with Pictures Paint Words' clear affection for mid-`90s mile-markers like caP'n Jazz, Braid and early Get Up Kids.

The band's approach is rooted in raggedy stop-starts and flimsy, knotty chords over raw sung vocals with a touch of a yelp to them. The main vocalist sounds a bit like a young Bob Nanna while his less-utilized partner sounds a lot like a young Matt Pryor. When they aren't busy with abrupt halts and consequent forward pushes, they stretch things out to territory where the moods are dissonant and a bit aching. The nearly six-minute "Sinking Ships" provides a warm portrait of this, with PPW giving some musical breathing room towards the end. But it's lyrically choking: "Treading in water -- sink or swim / Dead in the water -- can't abandon ship."

The nine-song Sinking Ships and Tallest Towers, which compiles two recording sessions (‘Sinking Ships' from autumn 2006 and ‘Tallest Towers' from summer 2007), has a fairly strong continuity about it nonetheless. "Family Album" provides a nice upbeat transition from "Sinking Ships," but it's stylistically similar, as are the closing few. They're just mildly stronger in both songwriting and production, even integrating a harmonica bridge into "Tallest Towers" quite well.

If you're on a jonesin' rampage for bands of this ilk as of late, you'd certainly do well to give Sinking Ships and Tallest Towers a try.

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