Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues

by Tim Sentz Rating:7 Release Date:2018-10-19
Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues
Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues

I mean this with the utmost respect for Jason Quever: Papercuts have never been “that” band. They’ve never managed to be anything more than background noise for a lot of fans and excluding the die-hards out there, it’s always seemed more of a Beach House-rip off project to some because of Quever’s previous ties with that band. It’s a shame because Papercuts are honestly a great band. Taking lengthy absences between albums, they’ve churned out modest dream-pop mixed with 60s style garage rock for the better part of the last 15 years.

It’s been four years since the last record – Life Among the Savages – an album that pushed Quever further into the accessible pop region that he was already dipping his toes into with 2011’s Fading Parade. Not many would consider Papercuts to be their favorite band – though I’m sure someone does – so anticipation for a Papercuts record is almost zero, and that’s because Quever takes his time and flies under the radar with his albums. Parallel Universe Blues continues that trend, and as always, it’s a collection of pop gems that will undoubtedly be overlooked. It’s not for lack of trying, Quever has taken the band from its humble lo-fi beginnings and evolved it into a fully formed act with anthems and choruses that demand participation from the crowd.

The two-minute opener “Mattress on the Floor” finds a nuanced strumming coupled with Quever’s trembling slowly building. His melodies are still soft and delicate, and his control over the track is always present. “Laughing Man” is the rollicking first single from Parallel and it’s your standard fare from Papercuts new direction began with Fading Parade. It’s reminiscent of strong bangers like “Do What You Will” and “Still Knocking At the Door” from Savages. “How to Quit Smoking” is another easy to jive with cut that contains all the necessary points for a Papercuts song.

“Sing to Me Candy” keeps the momentum going, even if it’s just an auto-pilot track, a common criticism of Papercuts music. There’s quality, but it all runs together. And while I’m giving this a 7 out of 10, it’s a high 7, because this is enjoyable music, just repetitive. Dream-pop stems from shoegaze, another genre that’s mostly bereft of any creativity these days. So, the lo-fi dreaminess of Papercuts music gets less and less interesting as Parallel Universe Blues moves. Whereas peers like Deerhunter, or Cass McCombs, or even Wild Nothing have veered into more experimental territories, Papercuts aren’t interested in doing that. Quever just wants to write lo-fi pop, and at the very least he’s successful in doing just that.

Props to Quever on the length of the album, something others in this genre aren’t great at is letting their creative juice just gush and gush out making for long and boring albums. Papercuts keep it simple and have kept the string of accessible lo-fi, dreamy pop alive and well. And while the album doesn’t mark a significant change in their stature with indie rock elitists, it does provide a nice break from the over saturation of other nostalgia rock. Papercuts won’t “wow” anyone, but it’s minimal pop harmonies will continue to keep the project well within that “background noise” genre.

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  • By Tim Sentz