It’s been three decades after their initial formation, and A Picture Made have finally unleashed their debut album Heal, a record which is comprised of both lighthearted melodies and anthemic alternative rock jams. Heal is an anthological LP if I’ve ever heard one; from the patient percussive swing of “Boxes on the Floor” to the blustery blues strut of “Behind Your Eyes” and the charming reverberation of “A Signal Hovering Over America,” A Picture Made never utilize the same formula more than once from track to track, and present listeners with the full scope of their dynamic artistry without overwhelming us with intricacies. There’s plenty of fiery rock n’ roll rhythm in songs like “God Loves a Hell of a Man,” “Healed” and “Heal You,” but it’s balanced out by a simplistic, singer/songwriter style melodicism in “Come to Me,” “Heal Me” and “Quitting Now Would Be Treason.” A Picture Made deliver what is best described as being among the most erudite indie rock releases of 2019, and though it took a heck of a long time to get here, it’s proven to be well worth the wait.
There’s a bit of rhythmic rebelliousness in “Locomo Mexico” and “When You Get Down,” lush lyricism in “Behind Your Eyes” and “Music is Love,” a dash of melodic pop conciseness in “Heal Me” and “Come to Me,” but the songs have a fluidity that I would normally associate with progressive material exclusively. Heal is multilayered to the max, and despite its endlessly intoxicating detail, it never feels particularly complicated thanks to the seamless arrangements that the band uses in every one of these tracks. Even if you weren’t aware of their backstory and the thirty-five year buildup to this rookie release, you don’t have to be an expert in music to pick up on the refined construction of these songs, which sound as though they’ve been tinkered with countless times in an effort to make them as lean and mean as possible. There isn’t even a trickle of excess to behold in A Picture Made’s only album to date, and that in itself is something to marvel at amidst this overindulgent age in pop music.
After years of waiting and wondering what an LP from this band would ultimately sound like, it can at last be said that A Picture Made’s Heal is, essentially, everything that critics like myself could have hoped for it to be. Considering the immense technological changes that have taken place in the recording industry since they first got together, I was anticipating a juggernaut of an album from these guys to say the least, and they turned in something that exceeded my expectations and then some. Time has been good to A Picture Made, and it’s my hope that this won’t be a singular event in their history together as a group. They’ve undeniably issued a remarkably memorable collection of tracks here, and I think that there’s more than enough potential for them to expand on this record’s framework in future releases as well - if we’re fortunate enough to ever see them, that is.