Time has become an increasingly abstract concept since the pandemic, not least for bands. For while there’s always a distance between the writing of a record and its release, the last few years have truly highlighted the reality of that. It’s something Picturesque have captured perfectly with their brand new single “Hopeless”. It begins with what almost sounds like a medieval guitar-line backed with a fuzzy crackle like an old, overplayed piece of vinyl. But then it suddenly jumps across centuries into the present—or perhaps the near-future—and the song explodes into a swathe of beats, synths, guitars and distorted vocals. A true blast of pop magnificence, while it retains some of the post-hardcore influences and sounds from the band’s early days, it’s more a calculated step forward into the next phase of their career. What makes that all the more intriguing and interesting is that it’s also a very specific snapshot of the past. It’s simultaneously both who Picturesque—vocalist Kyle Hollis, guitarists Zach Williamson and Dylan Forrester, and bassist Jordan McGreenway—are and were. ““Hopeless” was written during the earlier days of the pandemic,” explains Williamson. “We’re notoriously slow songwriters, but since we were locked inside, we decided to be productive. So we locked ourselves in a room and wrote, and that’s what came out.”
It’s a song, Williamson says, that’s about being and feeling stuck on numerous levels, both literal and metaphorical, all of which play into its lyrics and the urgent, breathless melody that propels it. Ironically, the song itself is an act of defiance, a rush of adrenaline that bursts through that feeling of futility, defeating the very thing at the heart of its subject matter. And while the band’s shift away from their musical roots started with 2020’s second album, Do You Feel OK?, it truly is in full force here. For while that record was a world away from Back To Beautiful, their 2017 debut full-length, this song is a galaxy away. “Musically, I think every artist kind of hits the threshold for the scene that they came up in, or the particular demographic of their listeners,” the guitarist says. “We asked ourselves ‘How do we break out of just being a rock band, or a Warped Tour band?’ Because we don’t want to be seen as that. We want to be much more.”
The emphatic answer to that question is contained within every aspect of “Hopeless”. Like most Picturesque songs, it both tells a specific story and is also riddled with hidden meanings and secret references. One of the topics “Hopeless” deals with is Hollis being taken away from his father when he was a child. It’s a harrowing subject matter that adds greatly to the fraught and frantic tension and emotion that permeates the song. “He was kidnapped by his biological mother,” Williamson says. “‘Kidnap’ may be a strong word, but that’s the word Kyle uses—he was taken away from his father and held and nobody was able to contact him. And basically his dad and a private detective came to grab him and take him back. So we took inspiration from being stuck in this kind of rundown house in southern Arkansas and put it into the verses a little bit.”
Whether you take it literally as a story that happened to Hollis or more metaphorically—or appreciate both sides of it—“Hopeless” stands as a powerful signal of where Picturesque are heading next. What’s more, it’s also just the beginning of what’s to follow for the band. Because as much as it’s a song about being stuck—about there not being any light at the end of the tunnel—its very existence proves that, in fact, there actually is.