This Paper Kites article was written by Sam Pickering, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Fraisia Dunn.
‘twelvefour’, was written between the hours of 12am and 4am, thus giving the album its strange title. This was done in order to spike lead singer Sam Bentley’s creative juices, and this record is shrouded in gloom and darkness.
Opening with ‘Electric Indigo’, The Paper Kites present their polished, alternative style of rock to create the haunting, moody sound that they have become known for. The use of arpeggios on this track could have taken inspiration from British alternative bands; a promising start to ‘twelvefour’. Keen not to completely ditch their acoustic sound, ‘Renegade’ offers plenty on that front, with a two-guitar attack that allows the soothing, poetic vocals of Sam Bentley to shine. A number inspired by spoken word, ‘Bleed Confusion’ incorporates many elements of what makes alternative music wonderful. From the slide guitar melody, to Christina Lacy’s backing vocals, to the endearing keyboard synths that close the track, it’s a song that Thom Yorke himself would have been proud of.
On the second single ‘Revelator Eyes’, The Paper Kites let us explore more of their expansive sound, but after experiencing ‘Bleed Confusion’, this change in direction seems a bit sudden. Still incorporating their gloomy rock, the track begins with a drumbeat that calls to mind Norwegian pop moguls A-ha, which is unexpected. Then we jump to a well-constructed, but slightly forgettable ‘Neon Crimson’; the lyrics verge on the clichéd at times,“I know I seem like a stranger, like a song you used to sing” being an example. This is nit-picking, as other sections of the record demonstrate how unconventional lyrics complement the style of music.
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The band explained that the reason they worked with producer Phil Ek was so he could help them make ‘twelvefour’ sound more “upbeat”. Whilst it’s hardly The Beach Boys, ‘I’m Lying To You ‘Cause I’m Lost’ is a slow dance song pairing major chord progressions with lyrics focusing on hopeless romanticism, and is as “upbeat” as ‘twelvefour’ gets. The finger picking guitar should receive praise, and Sam Bentley is a pioneer on most of this record, but namely on ‘A Silent Cause’. ‘Woke Up From A Dream’ adds some country-flavoured rock into the mix; you couldn’t ignore the harmonica even if you tried! The positive tone sinks when the lyrics “oh it’s just your sweet love gone” float around in the chorus, perhaps this is Bentley’s way of saying “even though you’re gone, I’ll get by”.
Penultimate song ‘Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me’ is a heartbreaking tune, and yet is one of ‘twelvefour’s most beautiful moments. Lyrics such as “and you’ll keep me settled for a while I know my love, just let me waste a little time” tell of a desperation to be loved, and will be able to connect with many listeners. Finally, ‘Too Late’ begins in the vein of 90’s romantic pop duo, and fellow Australians, Savage Garden. A slow burner, it builds into a huge, hypnotic climax worthy of this record, drawing ‘twelvefour’ to an unfortunate close.
Fans of debut album ‘States’ need not worry, they will find comfort in ‘twelvefour’. Reports have hinted that the album would signal a change in direction for The Paper Kites, but there aren’t too many dissimilar features on this album. Is ‘twelvefour’ folk rock though? Folk no. The more electric guitar oriented sound will bring new listeners, but it isn’t so overbearing that it would drive loyal fans away. This album is for anyone who wants to get lost in a different world for 43 minutes, and what a wonderful world it is.
‘twelvefour’ is out on the 22d January 2016 via Nettwerk.