Papercuts are generally nasty little things, particularly if you get them on your tongue having just licked an envelope. But Jason Quever, the creative force behind Papercuts, just doesn’t seem to be capable of creating anything so unpleasant. His music is more likely to caress you gently like a moistened toilet tissue than draw blood.
You Can Have What You Want is one of the most dreamy albums to be released in a long time. It’s unclear whether there’s a concept behind the lyrics, as the irresistible urge to daydream distracts from them. Quever could be singing about burying the evidence of his recent venture into child dismemberment for all I know, but such is the warmth of his vocals that you’re simply enveloped by their sound and placement in the arrangements. They drift over these tracks like high pitched clouds, and the minute you try to focus on them, they break apart, always beyond reach and unattainable.
Musically Papercuts seem to be from a different age. Quever is adept at conjuring up the sounds of the ’60s (and occasionally the ’70s), apparently entirely unintentionally. Intentional or not, the inference is there in most of these songs – and it usually stems from the keyboard that shivers away in the background giving us a basic melodic focal point.
Opening track Once We Walked In The Sunlight is a perfect example of this, with uncomplicated motifs appearing between the smoke filled passages of narrative and unobtrusive guitar. Directors Lament takes a slightly more abrasive tack, and is far more upfront. It awakes you briefly from your daydream to prod you with a gently swinging lounge band work out that Stereolab would have been proud to have written. Expect it to appear in a lift near you sometime soon.
If there’s a musical theme on You Can Have What You Want, it’s simplicity. Nothing does anything more than it needs to. Keyboard lines are basic, efficient and effective. The drumming merely keeps beat, rarely breaking free to provide auspicious rolls or fills. The guitars keep their heads down for the most part, happy to just provide colour to the canvas over which Quever croons to add the light and dark tones.
This is an album that at times shimmers, like Loveless era My Bloody Valentine stripped of the ridiculous bombast and volume. Rather than having your faculties blasted, they’re being massaged. Dead Love floats around you all heavy in intent, yet it’s also uplifting, encouraging you to head back to that field, stretch out on that horsey blanket and stare at the sky.
Future Primitive takes a trip with Nico and the Velvet Underground and once at their destination they play some West Coast tunes on the Dansette. This song plays with time more than any other on the album. By the time it’s hit the instrumental break you’re convinced you’ve heard this song on a soundtrack to a documentary about the Vietnam war. This is probably down to the opening lyrical gambit “I’m a soldier in the world, but we leave it all someday, what’s the use in trying to hide where we came from anyway?” The point really, as it is with all of You Can Have What You Want, is that regardless of what era Papercuts are paying (unintentional) homage to, they always sound relevant and never out of step.
Future Primitive is the centrepiece of an album that defies time and encourages daydreams. It feels like a gateway to a better world. You can have what you want, and you should want this.