Album Reviews

Papercuts – Fading Parade

(Sub Pop) UK release date: 28 February 2011

Don’t you just hate those effortless naturals who excel at absolutely everything? You know, the Zooey Deschanel types who augment their acting and modelling day jobs with irritatingly good musical exploits.

The splendidly-named Jason Quever falls into this category, though he has yet to spurn his indie mistress and branch out into drama, diplomacy or astrophysics. A sort of Dave Grohl of dream pop, he is Papercuts; a singing, songwriting and guitar, organ and drum playing one-man band. And a rather successful producer. Which is nice.

Fading Parade, however – his fifth album in total, but his first on a biggish label – represents something of a blind leap into the big leagues; an occasion for which Quever has seemingly sugar-coated his formula towards mainstream accessibility. And why not? It worked for Deerhunter, didn’t it?

Comparisons with the Atlanta four-piece, indeed, are not far wide of the mark, and in Fading Parade (even the title bears a semantic resemblance to Halcyon Digest) there is haste to channel both a crackling, rose-tinted past and a strange, gleaming future. Quever’s tones, too, are reminiscent of those of Bradford Cox.

The LP, of course, lives and dies by its own merits, and it has many. Opener Do You Really Wanna Know is inspired; a glorious reverberating mass that simply glows, ushering in album-long evocation of dilapidated glamour, careworn memories and smiling sadness.

Do What You Will, a tumbling, spine-tingling high watermark is in itself an instant classic in the most literal sense – its chiming guitar and soaring chorus steeped in timelessness – and completes a formidable and enviable opening pairing.

Aware that there is no light without shade, Quever mutes affairs with a tangibly heavy hand – his slow, laboured actions lending ennui to the painfully elegant I’ll See You Later, I Guess – before cracking the curtains with the more playful Chills; its light strumming and progression cast into the airwaves with deft production.

It is a credit to the Papercuts formula, indeed – and an indication that this foray into popular taste may pay off – that such changes of tack are handled so adroitly. While The Messenger takes an eternity to disgorge itself, it is an entirely gripping listen, before Wait Till I’m Dead exhibits the heartbroken bloom of love and Marie Says You’ve Changed dials up the gusto and puffs out its chest.

The closing pair, meanwhile – Winter Daze and Charades – spurn momentum and draw an introspective line under the entire affair; the former flirting with Black Heart Procession-style miserablism, the latter moving patiently from bare bones to rather indulgent, layered climax.

And that’s what prevents Fading Parade being a five-star effort: while it is the very model of the dream pop method, it perhaps lacks the oomph to excel right the way through to its conclusion. Nevertheless, the Papercuts project seems destined for bigger and brighter stages on the back of Fading Parade; a fine testament to Quever, jack of all trades, master of some.

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Papercuts – Fading Parade
Papercuts – You Can Have What You Want