Stellar sequels from Papercuts, Tokyo Police Club, Joyce Manor keep momentum going
Papercuts — ‘Parallel Universe Blues’
THE GOOD: California singer/songwriter/producer Jason Robert Quever releases his sixth as Papercuts.
THE BAD: No.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Over the past decade-and-a-half, Quever has given us indie pop sailing in and out of the realms of twee, dream pop, retro garage rock and jangle. “Parallel Universe” is no different. However, we wouldn’t want it to be, for Quever is a master at this stuff. Melancholy melodies spread across fuzzy atmospherics with the right amount of genuine rock noise to give the music a little muscle.
Quever isn’t the most charismatic front man, but that only enhances the experience. His songs aren’t meant to set the room ablaze or get in your face. Instead, the layered guitars, occasional strings, swirling organs, gentle rhythms and reserved vocals wrap around the listener in a hypnotic, droning buzz you hope will never end. At the same time, the music is never dull or relegated to melting into the background. Dreamy and hazy? Yes, but also compelling.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Tokyo Police Club — ‘TPC’
THE GOOD: After a brief hiatus, Canada’s Tokyo Police Club regroups and cranks out a lively fourth.
THE BAD: Those expecting the year’s best album or radical shift in sound won’t find it here. “TPC” is simply the band being itself, business as usual, and that’s enough.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Most of these 12 songs come complete with jagged riffs, crashing backbeats and a dedicated hook that’ll grab you immediately. The mix isn’t as clean as on past records, and there’s an intensity that isn’t normally here. The boys have recharged the batteries; their spark is back after a short separation.
It’s tough to resist the pull of slamming bits such as “Hercules” and “Simple Dude.” And even when the band flirts with slower tempos, as it does on the swaying “Unseen” and the grand, sweeping closer “Daisy Chain,” the energy level doesn’t dissipate. Songs also avoid blending into one another; the album is varied and impulsive. Let’s hope the band keeps the momentum going.
BUY IT?: Yep.
Joyce Manor — ‘Million Dollars to Kill Me’
THE GOOD: California punk group Joyce Manor releases its fifth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: I hesitate to call these guys “pop-punk” even though their music is extremely melodic. Despite the hooks and harmonies, Joyce Manor retains a grittiness on all its records, which prevents it from becoming the next guitar-driven, commercial alt-radio darlings. It’s better than that.
The band also accomplishes far more in 23 minutes than most do in 45. Every album seems to contain 10 quick, extremely focused tracks that grab hold immediately and never let up. “Million Dollars” follows this pattern.
From the jagged opener “Fighting Kangaroo” to the more delicate “I’m Not the One” to the almost-pre-Beatles throwback “Silly Games,” Joyce Manor keeps the tunes BIG and the momentum constantly pushing forward. All the while, the lyrics bring the everyday into an interesting light. Familiar situations always are relatable but never mundane. You’ll be instantly craving another 10 tracks, but hey, “Keep ’em wanting more.”
BUY IT?: Absolutely.