The dark, funhouse fanfare and harsh vocals overshadow an interestingly undressed rock backdrop.A chaotic carnival in the middle of nowhere, Pick Up Sticks echoes and rambles energetic bounces, but indulges a little too much on singer Nut Brown's maniacal yells. Vancouver's They Shoot Horses Don't They create a truly raucus atmosphere, but loses it in between silly and serious.
The varying elements of oompas, grinds, and chants are all nicely conceived, but as a collective, the band is unable to focus them into meaning. Instead, it's hyper post-rock jamboree with, often times, grating sounds. "A Place Called LA" is particularly enigmatic, with a galloping ramble led by an organ that pauses with smooth harmonies before eventually falling into a horn-driven rant. There are some seductive moments, however, such as the slow-burning "That's a Good Question". Before it loses its composure, that is.
They Shoot Horses Don't They's lo-fi orgy is a twist on the cold, sparse jam-outs of the last few years, but can't quite arrange the pieces right to develop them further. By the end of Pick Up Sticks, the brass and sax ultimately stab like brass tacks, and force a narrow context on the whole album. The energy is good, and the atmosphere is there, but it's all just a little too messy this time.