Picture This: MDRN LV review – New sounds and experimentation but where's the fun?
Delete your Tinder account, stop replying to late-night texts, keep your wandering eye fixed to the floor and put the lock down on hooking up, because if Picture This’s second album, MDRN LV, is anything to go by, modern love is, well, rubbish.
For all the hand-wringing – accompanied by suitable key changes – that’s gone into this collection of love and anti-love songs, we’d probably be better going to a silent retreat rather than surviving the dating scene.
It’s been two years since Ryan Hennessy, Jimmy Rainsford, Owen Cardiff and Cliff Deane released their debut self-titled album and, since then, the Athy boys have gigged all over the world, played the main stage at Electric Picnic and have long sold out five nights at Dublin’s 3Arena for this coming March. And with that big catapult into fame and new life experiences, the group have inched away from their acoustic sound and have decided to create a bigger, pop sound – although it feels as if they forgot to have some fun while they were doing it.
Lead single One Drink showed huge promise for things to come when it was released late in 2018. This groove-driven little rocket of a song has the sophistication of a high-end pop act such as DNCE, the Joe Jonas-fronted group that puts fun and melody at the forefront of every song, without feeling like a cheap imitation.
Using booze to numb their feelings and strained vocals to express what’s left of them, quips such as “It’s the bottle not my heart that I’ve been pouring” tick the box of the perfect wordplay required for a clever pop song to work but in what seems to be a trademark move, Picture This rely on the bad times to push their songs forward.
More than Just Tonight is a stadium pop-rock song that pines for something more than one-night stands, and Broken contains the weary demand to “Plug me out and plug me back in and I’ll start working”.
Life of the Party is about being the exact opposite of that but in a thrilling mesh of Vocoder, jumping synths and a bouncing bass line. This experimentation highlights the growth the band has undergone while balancing out self-deprecation and self-awareness nicely.
However, in a great parade of misery, their songwriting falls into a pattern of emotional dead-ends and self-torture without offering any resolution. Hurt Nobody is a paranoid song that sees our jealous hero stick with a cheating partner. “A thousand lies, a thousand times we’ve been through it,” sings Hennessy, cutting back on that mid-Atlantic vocal fry he demonstrates elsewhere, “I’ve seen the pictures on your phone.” That final punch is delivered with the unnerving click of a camera phone. If you’ve watched Netflix’s You, you know that this level of creeping can’t end well.
The album’s title is misleading because the LV that Picture This seem to address in their songs is really just a form of resentment. Everything or Nothing is a cruel break-up song that comes with the hateful line: “And did I really fucking love you or just the image in my head? The one that I have painted of you I’m gonna love you till I’m dead.”
MDRN LV is a hopeless account of what it’s like to fall in and out of lust and love (and everything in between), and while Picture This are branching out in their sound, maybe they should try changing their tune.