Papercuts’ fourth LP, Fading Parade is full of perfectly pleasant and at times soaring, beautiful music. Funnily enough the record’s title made me think that it both hints at, and sounds like a lament for a disappearing fashion; (I wonder how many more records of Brian Wilson-style pop we’ll get in the next 2 years or so?).. No matter; we’ve got a very fine pop record for now.
The band specialise in atmosphere, 1960s style. Simple songs are given that extra twist by utilising a lot of echo and space in the way you could hear on Beach Boys or Pretty Things records. I remember once reading a review about why Wilson’s songs were so effective; the reviewer suggested that it was all about “bitter-coating the dumb stuff” which stands well for this record too. The record sets an identifiable pattern straight from the start: there aren’t many surprises from thereon in. Do You Really Wanna Know is a lovely understated pop song that employs a spiralling guitar part to drag it ether-wards. Following that, Do What You Will is a sonorous, pious lament underscored by some ringing guitar - using Echoplexes by the sound of it - and various other breathy atmospherics. I’ll See You Later I Guess takes the High Church vibe even further with a mix of patient, carefully laid out guitar parts and what sounds like an autoharp (this ignoramus wouldn’t know). All this piety is put aside for the moody Chills, which is a very fine pop song indeed with a blissful refrain.
The tracks have grandeur about them that I’ve not heard on any of their other work; this is probably their best LP to date, in that it balances symphonic and simple in a manner that is unaffected and unafraid. Messenger and White are the Waves aren’t difficult to get to grips with; their simplicity is one of their strengths. Things don’t work when it gets over-mawkish (Wait Till I’m Dead may have a lovely refrain but come on…) but Winter Daze is a classic teenage lament, not far away from the noise Seabear have been making this past 2 years or so. And the closing number, Charades is a beautiful melancholy spiral driven by a lovely bubbling guitar line.
Perfect American pop.