Following a tour with Vancouver glam legend Johnny de Courcy, Painted Fruit has released their second and final album, PF II. Two of the members have now moved across the country, making this LP the group’s last word in the West Coast music scene.
Compared to 2015’s Fruit Salad LP, PF II is not a bad hill to die on. The beauty of the album lies in its flashes of unpredictability. Where Fruit Salad was flat and formulaic, PF II is driven by pleasantly surprising breakdowns sprinkled throughout what could easily have been little more than an homage to typically beachy songwriting.
As the fourth track on the record, “No Substance” pulls listeners out of the brain fog that they will likely find themselves falling into. This song pumps out a more aggressive edge than can be found on any of the numbers that come before it. Its shouty refrain is reminiscent of Jay Reatard’s hard-and-fast underground hit, Blood Visions, which is nicely contrasted against my personal second-favourite of the record, “Make Up Your Mind.” This simple, hooky love song is followed by a few forgettable fillers that could have been written by any other indie rock band and a danceable pseudo-disco hit called “Product.” With that, PF II wraps up neatly in under 40 minutes.
The general sound of the record is luxurious, dripping in reverb and wrapped in warm but chirpy guitar tones that compliment and carry the frontman’s throaty crooning. There are influences on PF II that make themselves abundantly clear from the album’s start to its finish; Joe Strummer, King Krule and Morrissey are obviously present in the vocals, and jangle pop and math rock groups like Preoccupations, Foxygen and Beach House are easy to pick out from the record’s instrumentation.
What makes Painted Fruit fun and fresh to listen to, despite being able to easily draw these comparisons, is that it sweeps listeners up and into an unforeseeable direction. It’s difficult to predict where the music will take you next, or what to expect during the two seconds of silence between one song and another, but it’s an exciting wave to blindly ride.
The band lives comfortably within their genre, but manages to deny limitations with PF II. In 2017, Painted Fruit finally settled on a style that’s not too dissonant and not too sugary, both of which Fruit Salad unfortunately fell victim to. Similarly unfortunate, though, is that it’s curtain time for Painted Fruit, who will be leaving only two records and one split seven-inch to remember them by.