Sunday, May 24, 2009

You Can Have What You Want - Papercuts

You Can Have What You Want

Gnomonsong Records.

SCQ Rating: 76%

Upon a single, casual listen, Papercuts can come off like one of a thousand revivalist projects. Precise in his Golden Age-R&B grooves while adding some disaffected vocals, Jason Quever – sole official member of Papercuts – carries a 60s-torch that few would mime so exactingly; not because his chosen era of inspiration isn’t ripe for scrounging through, but because such focused songwriting eventually arises suspicion of the dreaded one-trick-pony label. Full disclosure: (A) I’ve never heard Quever’s previous Papercuts records and (B) You Can Have What You Want, as a collection of songs, does little to deter any one-trick name-calling. Labels be damned! While you can accuse Quever of cradling his muse with white-knuckled singularity, you can hardly criticize the results when You Can Have What You Want is as immersive as it is detailed. Somewhere… aging fans of Jefferson Airplane are downloading their first MP3s…

If you get beyond its easy-to-spot influences and investigate the liner-notes, you’ll find that Quever has aimed higher with You Can Have What You Want than most expected… and by higher, I mean into SPACE… into the great VOID! After a fond farewell to intimacy on opener ‘Once We Walked in the Sunlight’, Quever boards us up into his machine and blasts us into a comatose uncertainty… where our identities are our past memories, and our “contact”, we’re reminded, “has been lost for days”. The cover-art implies as much, depicting featureless bodies falling (or rising?) haphazardly from (or into?) some obscure vehicle-transport. These feelings of isolation are conversely unnerving and comforting; the analog production’s love of organs cause some suffocating moments of nostalgia (‘The Machine Will Tell Us So’, ‘The Wolf’) while the incorporation of a tense orchestra (on ‘Jet Plane’) and soft piano (on the title track) provide a soothing relief to a monotony that is commonly a step from the door.

Not unlike his vaguely space-bound narrative, Jason Quever’s songs are like a capsule - airtight amidst his army of organs, numb to any emotional trespasses. And while a few songs fail to measure up to the record’s high-points (‘Jet Plane’, ‘Dead Love’ and ‘Future Primitive’ is arguably one of the best triple-plays of the year), You Can Have What You Want proves irresistible after multiple listens, with Quever standing at the forefront of the revivalist pack.

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