Video Get App
Music Movies TV Comedy Games Books Comics Drink Politics

Papercuts: Parallel Universe Blues Review

Music Reviews the papercuts

Slumberland Records hasn’t changed its aesthetic much since launching in 1989. The label has tended to release indie-pop bands that favor hazy musical arrangements full of trebly guitars and wistful, vaguely British-sounding vocals. Papercuts fits right in with Parallel Universe Blues, the band’s sixth album and first for Slumberland.

The 10 songs on Parallel Universe Blues are atmospheric and catchy in a melancholic kind of way. Frontman/mastermind Jason Quevar has described the album as a “post-breakup record” tied in to his move from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and having to find his place in a new city and become part of a new scene. It’s all a bit more oblique than that in the songs, which often contain an undercurrent of mordant wit: Quevar sets the scene on “How to Quit Smoking,” describing a pack of cigarettes on the dresser as someone reads a self-help book in bed and declares, “This is the last one.” His voice is wreathed in reverb, accompanied by a sturdy backbeat and head-bobbing guitar riff that bubbles up between verses.

Quevar has a broad command of lo-fi musical touches (many of which aren’t lo-fi at all, despite the descriptor), and he creates full, layered soundscapes that are more direct than the chamber-esque songs on the band’s 2014 release Life Among the Savages. Squiggles of rubbery guitar warble through a blanket of static on opener “Mattress on the Floor.” There’s bright, blaring organ and a loose jumble of percussion on “Kathleen Says” and the shake of a tambourine augments downhearted vocals on “All Along St Mary’s.” There’s even cello lurking just beneath the surface on “Clean Living,” and queasy, super-compressed guitar on “Waking Up.”

Parallel Universe Blues is actually the second-best project Quevar has worked on this year: he also produced Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre, an unexpectedly riveting “western dream-pop” album. By contrast, Papercuts’ latest breaks little new ground. All the same, it’s an appealing, skillfully constructed collection of songs, and sometimes, that’s enough.

More from the papercuts
the papercuts Features
the papercuts Reviews
the papercuts Video
the papercuts Audio