the jim yoshii pile-up - picks us apart

.:: In a world infatuated with the sound of broken hearts, who will bear witness to the breaking of minds? Enter the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up with Picks Us Apart, a sonic universe gently compressed into a moody snow globe. The tone is set from the first thuds of "A Toast to the Happy Couple," a sparkling suicide note telling family and friends to go to hell. "You are all hereby formally indicted," vocalist Paul Gozenbach declares against steely bursts of guitar, as if demanding payback for the wrongdoings of everyday life. Villains and victims abound in the echo-laden beauty of this album, with songs like "Jailhouse Rock," an allegory of sexual abuse that manages nods to both Elvis and doomed British mobster Reggie Kray. Driven by a flawless call-and-response of vocals, the melodies build to a bridge that will one day find itself on a movie soundtrack.

Righteous indignation established, gears switch quickly to songs like the gently strummed "Heart My Home" and the helpless romantic abandon of "Black and Gold." "It's true that you can love someone you hardly know," Gozenbach whispers over the gentle crash of cymbals and almost gothic harmonies. "The Mind of God" follows suit with a fuzzy chime of guitars that recall the Cocteau Twins at the height of their powers. For an album composed of lost souls, Picks Us Apart never loses its way, weaving quietly between passion, pain, and ultimately, hope. "You and I will be the silt that joins the Pacific Rim tonight," "Beach Glass" promises with its sweet, shimmering layers of noise. An unflinching celebration of the small, gray moments of life, Picks Us Apart is the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up's finest moment, and clearly one of the best albums of 2005. (Kate Izquierdo)

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