There’s a shy kid in the corner. You probably missed him on your way in, but he’s there. In fact, he tried to chat you up yesterday. You couldn’t hear his mumbled approaches so you said “What?” He replied, “Nevermind.” and went back to his corner.
Falling Parade, the fourth offering by Papercuts (a.k.a. Jason Quever and friends), exemplifies such an exchange. A whispery voice floats over 60′s pop, modernized by layers of organ, strings, piano and guitars. Delay and cavernous reverb take all the edge out of the tracks, futher emphasizing the analog sound. The record is subtle, yet it’s hardly the type of subtlety to make you want to stop our shy friend as he returns to his corner. You just shrug your shoulders and go on with your life.
Some tracks provide glimpses of the true potential of our reticent antihero. “Marie Says You’ve Changed” starts with an upbeat, Smiths-esque guitar riff before the dynamic falls flat of the expectation set up by those first few notes. The vocals continue the disappointment on this track by lacking emotion, never really let go.
“Do What You Will” sets a high standard early on the record (and is likely the song that most will actually remember). The verse begins with the trademark whisper-across-the-room vocals, but Quever finally breaks out into song during the chorus. This is the moment when those holding their breath shout out in elation as the shy kid finally finds his voice. Unfortunately, the two choruses of “Do What You Will” are the last time on this record that he does.
The subtleties and whispers of this record are just too overpowering. We’re not inspired to dive into the layers and find the reasons to love this record. There’s nothing to bring us back for a second listen. It’s a disappointing Sub Pop debut, but there are more records in Papercuts’ future. Our shy friend just can’t give up yet.