There is definitely something going on in Leeds. The English city has birthed everyone from post-punk greats like Gang of Four, the Mekons and the Wedding Present to Goth purveyors Sisters of Mercy, synth-pop sleaze merchants Soft Cell, indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs and the arty, intellectual strains of current heroes Alt-J.
The next Leeds offering to gain worldwide acclaim just may be Team Picture, a five-piece ensemble described on Facebook as “One part post-punk, two parts fuzz.” Although the evidence is slim — just four singles so far — the appeal is undeniable. (You can hear all four tracks on the band’s Soundcloud page)
Team Picture’s latest release “Back to Bay Six” begins as a driving barrage of alternately ragged and ringing guitar with urgent vocals and a spectral “oooh, aaah” chorus. The track changes pace for the final two minutes, sliding into a more lilting approach to six-string shimmer. The willingness to allow songs to indulge such instrumental flights of fancy and the employment of sophisticated arrangements gives Team Picture a prog edge that sets them somewhat apart from their indie rock brethren.
TP released three tracks in 2016. “Birthday Blues” is another relatively long (six minutes) sonic blast, featuring a propulsive, insistent intro followed by a guitar line that cuts through like The Edge on acid. Singer/guitarist Josh McCarthy’s psychedelic, multi-tracked vocals consist only of the repeated line, “Ain’t nobody wanna be friends with me,” rendering the title self-explanatory. The track concludes with three minutes of unrestrained guitar glory.
“Classic M” comes off like a Jesus and Mary Chain homage with a more plodding beat and dark, primal vocal highlighted by a sing-shouted female chorus, giving the short track a post-punk Goth feel. Team Picture manage to make good use of the male-female vocal dynamic in a manner similar to fellow Leeds newbies Menace Beach.
Contrasting the other three Team Pictures tracks is “Potpourri Headache,” a slowly turning, six-minute voyage to the deep end of your mind. With a title worthy of a Pink Floyd outtake, the song offers plenty of psychedelic guitar drone and ocean waves of ghostly vocals that twist and turn like woozy brain taffy.
Team Picture’s Bandcamp site describes them as “Professional genre tourists and consummate knob twiddlers.” Indeed, they take the lo-fi, DIY approach to indie rock and marry it with digital tools that allow even the most humble acolytes to ape rock-god studio status. Whether they can reproduce their amazing sound in a live setting is to be determined, at least on this side of the pond, but following their progress is bound to make our ears happy.
So far we have only a snapshot, yet there’s a good chance Team Picture will be suitable for framing