‘Being cool means fucking up / hanging out means getting drunk / what was wrong with the way it was?’
The above lyrics are taken from the opening track on Rose, the aptly named Dead Days, and they set the stage well for the nine that follow it. Picture Perfect aren’t particularly happy with the way things are, and this angst and need for escape / change punctuates a lot of their second full-length record Rose, which is set for release on the April 15th through Victory Records stateside. The band recently signing to Mutant League Records, a label perhaps best known for Seaway’s Hoser and in a similar way to how that record was pop-punk laced with emotion Rose also holds nothing back, serving as both a commentary and insight in both its heavier and softer moments. It might not be anything you haven’t heard before, but Picture Perfect offer more than enough to merit a listen, mixing a punk rock mentality with subtle guitar melodies and personal, reflective lyrics.
I listened to the New Jersey band’s debut album Face The Facts before sitting down to take in Rose and the main thing that struck me was the progression. As far as I’m aware Picture Perfect are still a fairly young band, or I’m assuming they are, and Rose initially sounds like a big step up from their debut. It’s less clichéd or gimmicky and as a whole it’s stronger lyrically, vocally and instrumentally, meaning that overall it’s a push in the right direction. I’m fairly new to the band, so maybe to judge them so quickly is unfair, but I liked Rose, whereas I didn’t particularly like Face The Facts, mainly because it didn’t grab me in the way I hoped it would. Thankfully its follow-up did, although it did still take a few listens. As a whole it’s a much more respectable and commendable release, and I think that’s the aspect of it that likely deserves the most praise. Granted, Rose isn’t anywhere near the monumental leap between say, Get Stoked On It! and The Upsides, but it’s much better than its predecessor, so kudos on that. That being said however, there’s still room for improvement – mainly lyrically – particularly on fifth track Voodoo, which is catchy enough but relies perhaps too much on simple rhymes and weaker lines (‘I’m sick of always being let down / I’ve got nothing to live for now’) and ultimately makes for a repetitive and tiresome listen. Following track You’re The Stranger is much better however, addressing heartbreak in a suitably low-key manner before building to a dynamic crescendo and one of the records best moments. Tracks like this one sound better as a result of their more mature approach, and they generally catch Picture Perfect at their best, as does the somewhat acoustic entry Stone, which cruises from start to finish, occasionally perking up via sparkling instrumentals.
Like its namesake Rose has these softer, blooming moments, but it also has a thorn in the more explosive tracks, one of the better of which is second track Off The Grid, which sounds massive in contrast to the acoustic entries, churning with a youthful energy and anger conveyed well through vocalist Pete Zengerle’s harsher delivery and the bouncing gang vocals in the background. For a track about non-conformity it’s suitably anthemic, as the line ‘Fight the urge, be the black sheep in the herd’ is yelled out over powerful drums and surging guitars. Following track and lead single of sorts Everyone And Everything is another highlight, bringing a bit more ‘bite’ to an otherwise standard pop punk song, to great effect. This energy comes from every aspect of Picture Perfect’s music, and there’s venom to it that sets it apart to an extent. At the end of the day Rose is a pop-punk record of sorts, but there’s number of influences and styles, with the band falling somewhere between Grandview, Real Friends, Seahaven and early Dikembe (roughly). Instrumentally, there’s a good amount of variety throughout, and drummer Montana Voegtlin in particular excels, putting in a brilliant performance, with the other members not necessarily comparing but all contributing, complementing well.The more traditional rock tracks like seventh and eighth songs Cycle and Carved Onto The Bridge both sound huge in different ways as a result, with the latter throwing in a sonic final minute whilst the former coasts along on head nodding instrumentals before dropping off to catchy bass and mellowed vocals only to bounce back for the best chorus on Rose. The record ends with the title track, which is fittingly enough the best that Picture Perfect have to offer, being vocally brooding and dark (‘Six years I spent working for what’s left of a dream that’s dead / Six years too late’) whilst featuring some of the heavier instrumentals, exploding into a breakdown of sorts as the line ‘Wither like a rose’ draws the album to a bristling and emphatic close, ending Rose on an emotional high yet crushing low.
For a second full-length release Rose ticks a lot of the right boxes, showing progression above all else. With pop-punk being the often restricted genre that it is it’s important for a band to push forwards and merge other elements into their music, which Picture Perfect definitely do. Fair enough there’s still some room to grow, but Rose is a very strong release from a band well worth watching from here onwards.
Rating – 7/10
Listen to: Off The Grid / You’re A Stranger / Rose
Pick up physical copies here: http://www.victorymerch.com/store/pictureperfect
Buy digital / stream here: http://mutantleaguerecords.bandcamp.com/album/rose