Paperfangs is a trio from Helsinki, Finland, consisting of Juri, his sister Tarleena, and their buddy Mikko. Don't have they have last names in Finland? Anyway, this is their debut release, an EP available online and on cassette.
Juri is the vocalist, but the rest of the duties are unclear. On the press release it says that Tarleena "plays many of the instruments you will hear in their music, while Mikko controls the bandís visual side". I am not sure if that means that he controls their wardrobe, does the album art, makes the video loops that they project on screen as they perform live, or what. Is anything that i am reviewing here -- the six songs on the debut EP -- affected in any way by Mikko's presence? I cannot tell. Also, if Tarleena plays "many" of the instruments, does that mean that Juri plays the rest, or does Mikko help out, or, i dunno, do Finnish Leprechauns play the rest? Who can tell!
Finns are, apparently, mysterious.
So, we know that Juri sings. His vocal style is bored, kind of muttering his words in a slightly fuzzily distorted way, almost like Stephen Merritt circa Charm of the Highway Strip. Behind his voice, the rhythms are all over the place, from almost dubsteppish (Lifelong) to hip-hop loops (I Felt the Ocean) to a dull thudding (Proteus). Keyboards drive the music, in many layers and with a variety of sounds, from synths to piano to strings. So i guess, when you get down to it, this is a type of synthpop, but it seems to take the old New Wave synthpop and update it with a lot of modern sample-based techniques. Let's go over the songs, and perhaps you will see what i mean.
The EP starts off with Books, which consists of a buzzing synth bit, some nice syncopated keys, and those vaguely disaffected vocals. On the verses, the beat gets a little scattered as Juri wearily sings his lines, resigned that he has to get through the song. The music behind him is having a great time, bouncing along, but he seems bored. The overall effect is fun, which i guess means that the music wins out over the voice.
I Felt the Ocean has nice clunking drums and a head-bopping beat. There is a great synth line on the chorus, something bright and happy and 1980s-ish. This song chugs along wonderfully.
Lifelong starts with an old sounding sample of a child talking, like something from a Boards of Canada Song. Juri's voice is fuzzy, and the a guitar tickles under a fuzzed out synth line. The overall effect is like Boards of Canada covering Flock of Seagulls, which is a pretty awesome idea now that i mention it.
Valleys and Peaks has a Felt-like guitar riff over some big thudding drums, the guitar reverbing wildly as Juri mutters his way along. And then, halfway through, it gets silly, with an odd vocal sample and synth strings.
Oh I Wandered has a throbbing beat and a steady hi-hat hit. The piano hits sparse riffs as a keyboard or buzzes and whirrs. This is positively dancey, with a stuttered vocal sample to accompany Juri's voice. Paperfangs are at their most LCD Soundsystem-esque here -- this is high quality indie disco pop.
And finally we wrap things up with the insanely upbeat Proteus. There is a dull drum hit, like a drummer playing down the hall, under a throbbing synth line, and a guitar riff straight out of 1987. This bounces along to end the record.
Overall, i am really impressed. I might be unclear on who is doing what in this band, but they have crafted one of the most enjoyable EPs i have heard this year. This is happy, fun music with great rhythms and fun melodies. I cannot help but tap my foot and bounce along with this music.
More like this, please.