Review: Paper House – A Suitcase Full of Hope and a Safety Mat (EP)
As the debut EP from Paper House slides from its mailer into the CD player I try to pick up its scent from the cover art: dreaminess, playfulness, a touch of austerity…
Fix Your Heart bounces into the room to call me a liar, but within seconds stammering syncopated drums emerge, trying to collapse under the poppy sweetness and bring it down as much as drive it. This creates a beautiful musical tension, but also shows a band with the confidence to undercut its pop appeal to let you know there’s more afoot than catchy singles.
The tempo slows after this, vocal hooks staying strong but mood coming to the fore. Dollhouse builds its atmosphere relentlessly and inevitably, from lonely, scratchy shuffle to a swirling crescendo of synth, piano, guitar and rumbling bass. The sadness and hope it establishes evolve in Wild Eyes, where languor battles passion, electronic cool trying to restrain a bass drum heart. Machine Cogs is the weakest link but still succeeds as atmosphere, and multiple vocal tracks enliven it, slashing at each other in the dark.
The sultry Best of Things reveals some jazz influence, in the closing guitar solo and in Siddons’ borrowing of Billie Holiday’s style for the opening verse, ideal conveyance for dismay and dissolution. The Spanish guitar opening of Where I Sleep suggests something conventional, but this thought is quickly dispelled by a harpsichord being harassed under a nearby bridge. Layers of low drones and electronic sputters build and swell, vocals drifting confidently through it all until we glide into an unknown sea.
Paper House have succeeded here in blending emotional depth, always intriguing interplays of sound, and vocal melodies that will stick to the inside of your skull all day. With their debut they’ve already found that magic harmony between musical intelligence, invention and feeling.
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.
Author DetailsSF Lyons
SF is a Melbourne based freelance writer. He is also working on a novel and some stories. His musical tastes are catholic, crippled by authoritarian impulses and nebulous feelings of guilt. He recently obtained a Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT but isn't sure where to put it.