The Amazing – Picture You

Quite possibly the biggest perk of immersing yourself in the ever changing framework of new music is the abundance of discoveries to be found. Granted, some leave as quickly as they arrive, but along the way I’ve encountered many equipped with serious sticking power. One act with plenty of that is a modestly named ensemble known as The Amazing. In 2012, the Swedish outfit left a deep and firm impression with their immaculately detailed sophomore record Gentle Stream. With a wonderful ebb and flow forged from folksy psych rock roots, it easily found a place in my list of favourites for that year. Picture You is the group’s follow-up and third full release so far, and although it doesn’t find itself sitting on the same level as it’s predecessor, it does see the group continue in fine form.

The most noticeable difference to be found within this record is that The Amazing have opened up their repertoire somewhat, the arc of their influences and the product concocted from them is significantly larger. Their sweet, free flowing and understated sense of melody is still firmly in place, and there is still definitely a trace of rustic, Zeppelinlike noodling to be found. But Picture You comes with crisper, crunchier edges and denser backgrounds. In some places (the shoegazey core of “Safe Islands” being a prime example), The Amazing’s heavier aesthetic grounds the album and lathers on a more ethereal and atmospheric layer, the kind in which you can easily and blissfully find yourself lost.

Despite the often worn dreamy overcoat of Picture You, these Swede’s haven’t shied away from sporting sharper edges. The wiry, note-bending distortion and stinging organ sounds of “Fryshusfunk” once again finds them gently shift the orientation of their sound, this time to flirt with black metal and stoner rock roots. Although this particular lilt might be the most unexpected bend in The Amazing’s sound, theres no denying it’s an alteration that fits nicely. By embracing a dirty, scuzzier and more aggressive stance, they’ve added another dimension to what they do, one that I would love to hear them expand upon further.

Although it might not have the level of detail or the fluid movement of Gentle Stream, what Picture You lacks in these departments it makes up for in building new ideas. It’s evident that The Amazing are not a band content to keep on, keeping on, and although this kind of attitude may leave them vulnerable to inconsistency down the line, for right now the risk is definitely paying off. By mixing a little bit of the familiar with a healthy dose of difference and executing both with gusto, The Amazing are making some bold and exciting moves. Moves which only serve to strengthen their reputation.

Thanks Squarespace!