Paper Lions - My Friends (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
DRIPPING with ear-pleasing melody and a style that encapsulates the best qualities of bands like Fountains of Wayne and The Shins, Paper Lions’ new album, My Friends, is a genuinely great listen.
Recorded with acclaimed Canadian indie-rock producer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, The New Pornographers, Mother Mother), this collection of 10 songs captures a polaroid of Prince Edward Island 20-some years ago.
Hence, stories of love and pain, childish fights, best friends, beaches and forts evoke the melancholia of youth, as remembered by a group of people not very far from it.
You get the sense you’re going to like it from the opening moments of Bodies In The Water, which drops an insistent drum loop and some great guitar-work over an instantly appealing set of lyrics, which are laden with imagery such as “we walked through graveyards with our boots on”.
The harmonies inherent in the vocals conform to a classic style of delivery, too, as embraced to great effect by everyone from The Beach Boys to The Shins. It works will in providing a lighter sound to the darker lyrics, which offer up a chorus of “running away from the truth, the bodies of winter are coming for you”.
Pull Me In maintains the richness of harmony and adopts a more Fountains of Wayne-style approach that’s equally toe-tapping and enjoyable, while Sandcastles shimmers along in bright fashion.
Another highlight, however, comes in the form of title track, My Friends, which offers up one of the meatiest guitar sounds on the LP and a falsetto vocal that just sounds great, complete with an electronic embellishment that works a treat. It’s a rich sound that contributes to a great song about friendship through the years.
Evidence of the band’s ability to mix things up and slow things down is found on the mesmerising mid-tempo Ghostwriters, which adopts a more wistful approach, while San Simeon combines a striking central riff with emphatic piano arrangements to create another highlight (think Ben Folds meets Fountains of Wayne on this occasion).
Philadelphia has a haunted quality about it, too, that lends it an epic feel, and which arrives in stark contrast to the more breezy likes of So Lonely, which dazzle in their brevity and juxtaposition of quickfire riffs and melancholy sentiments.
Put together, My Friends is a terrific listen from a band who now feel like great amigos.
Download picks: Bodies In The Winter, My Friends, San Simeon, Ghostwriters, Sandcastles