Toronto frontwoman/songwriter Liz Hysen is a genius at creating unsettling dissonance with her avant-garde pop. Her band, Picastro, has been labelled "sleep rock," but it's not the kind of music most of us would want to listen to before bed-time, likely as it is to induce nightmares.
The Bible, westerns and Cormac McCarthy's books are said to have influenced Become Secret, their fourth album. She sings in a deathly, lethargic sigh as a piano plonks, a cello saws and a guitar strums. The brief tunes are sparse yet cinematic, tentative yet boldly inventive. Hysen uses repetition and pop structures - verses, choruses - that temper the peculiarities in the tone, harmonies and delivery.
Standouts include the instrumental A Dune A Doom, the almost catchy Pig & Sucker and the melancholy closer, The Stiff.
Top track: The Stiff
Picastro play the Horseshoe on Wednesday (March 17).