I first heard Papercuts at a friend’s house on a tiny record player. HE first heard of them from the guy in the record store where he picked up 2009’s “You Can Have What You Want”. Where THAT guy heard of them I have no idea. I also have no idea exactly when and where this genre of music known as “dream pop” started happening, but I’ll tell you what: I sort of dig it.
Admittedly I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and spend some real quality time with the bands previous album, but I have always kind of liked it. It’s generally pleasing and provides a nice relaxed/chilled ambience without actually having to pay attention to it. Which is not to say that that you shouldn’t pay attention…it’s just very pretty, weirdly poppy music and that’s how it honestly works the best for me. Point is, whether it’s “dream pop” or “chill pop” or any other “pop” you might pair with a word that is softening by nature, it does what it’s supposed to and there’s just no real surprises to be had there. So it’s weird that after being so enthusiastic yet ultimately ambivalent towards “YCHWYW” I find myself paying close attention to their new album, “Fading Parade”.
There is an implied slackness and maybe even a softness that is associated with this type of music, and it’s still HIGHLY present on “Parade”, but the record sounds more focused than I would have ever expected. From the opening track, “Do You Really Want to Know”, that comes across as a weird alternate softer universe Pixies/Velvet Underground bit to the Walkmen-esque “Wait Till I’m Dead”, it seems that the Papercuts have made a real effort to not just drone, but drone with purpose. There are at least 1000 bands that EXACTLY like this these days. I know this because I heard at least 100 of them at ACL this year. And while most of them are pleasing to the ear hole, they aren’t really doing anything different than their eventual touring buddies in Kansas or California or Chicago or WHEREVER.
Papercuts, I think, are.
Doing something different that is.
By taking what they love about the music they love and building upon it rather than emulating it, a real voice seems to be emerging here. A quick glance over at the ol’ Wikipedia informs me that Papercuts are in fact driven by San Francisco songwriter/producer Jason Quever, which is not really what I expected. Usually these things as driven by one guy sound great but end up being hyper-pretentious and largely unlistenable (Sufjan Stevens, I’m looking at you). This record is warm. It sounds like a BAND conceived it...A GOOD BAND!. Papercuts are playing to their strengths here in a serious way and the results sound less like a band that is trying to fit into some scene and more like a band that is trying to elevate above it. And I like that.
I like it a lot.
Standout Tracks: “Winter Daze”, “Do You Really Want To Know”, “Chills”