Picastro Whore Luck

The title of the album comes from a term that means when a person who partakes in the world’s oldest profession scores a customer that isn’t that bad looking. It’s a dark joke but if there’s something this Toronto band have done over their career, and especially on this third album, it’s been keeping things pitch black. Not only with their humour, but with the feelings and atmosphere brought about by Liz Hysen’s rough voice and matter-of-fact delivery amidst the melodic cello and bursts of atonal feedback. This is paranoid music that’s utterly original and incredibly beautiful. Like all difficult art, you are begging for some kind of relief from the captured tension. The record’s highlight, and simplest piece, is "Friend of Mine,” where it’s just Hysen’s longing voice and an echoed, haunting piano — you don’t know whether to cry or laugh. Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu, who also explores the extremes of melody and darkness, lends his romantic voice on the elegiac "Older Lover,” providing the perfect foil to Hysen’s defeat. Harsh and comforting, hard and soft, this is an album of contrasts that is Picastro’s pinnacle. (Polyvinyl)