maandag 18 augustus 2014

Life among the savages. Papercuts

A rather weird cover this cd has. Something that may pop up in a museum, that I would pass by pretty soon. Not my cup of tea. It may well be a cut up with gouache paint though. In that case the cover goes well with the band name. What also goes well with it, is the music. No bright colours on the cover, no bright notes on the album. Everything sounds rather subdued. Well played, but as if under clouds, like sounds coming to me in through a thick fog.

Papercuts is an American indie pop, shoegaze, dreampop band around singer-songwriter Jason Robert Quever. Although Life among the saveges is my first exposure to Papercuts, the band is around since the very start of this century and releases albums since 2004. This is its fifth, following 2011's 'Fading parade'. The other members do not seem to be overly important, according to Wikipedia, what is somewhat contradicted by the fact that the line up is the same since 2008, when the band starting touring regularly. So here they are anyway: Graham Hill on drums, Frankie Koeller on bass and David Enos on keyboard and guitar. That Enos is not just there for the heck of it, is shown in 'Easter morning' where the piano enlivens the song not just a little. The piano is distinctive in several songs. In 'Easter morning' it carries the whole song with its repetitive chord progression.

As I wrote, the songs on Life among the savages are not exactly jumping from joy. As such the band reminds me of the U.K. Sophia and (the band) Spain. Also all sorts of things U.K. from the 80s come to mind, that sang holding back. Serious songs that aim for being just a little bit more. Songs that want to make a lasting impression without pushing or trying to hard. That is a dangerous way to make music. Someone not paying attention won't even notice the album come by. Live it may be very difficult to keep attention of listeners. To be honest, I don't ever see myself go to a show of Papercuts, although if they ever were to play the Q-Bus, I may just make an exception. The audience there just shuts up and listens. (Hans, are you paying attention!)

Those that do pay attention may just be surprised at the levels of elementary musicianship on display here. Quever sings with his highish, soft voice over songs that are played without too much embellishments. Listen closely and you might find extra instruments and sounds in there. Except for the piano it is seldom prominent. All part of the tightly packed sound. A massive, soft sound is what Papercuts gives us. Phil Spector's orchestra playing at half volume and strength. Something like that, yes.

Life among savages is an album that made an impression on me fast. At the same time I'm seriously wondering whether I will ever sing out loud to one of these songs. That answer is probably no. For the rest the album sits rather well with me it does.


You can listen to title track 'Life among the savages' here.

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