The California-based dream pop group Papercuts returns with their first album in four years, “Parallel Universe Blues” (2018). Led by singer-songwriter Jason Robert Quever, Papercuts has realeased five previous albums over the span of a decade. On their sixth full-length album, they further develop their sound that fuses the hazy feeling of shoegaze with the mellowness of dream pop.
The opening track ‘Mattress On the Floor’ greets the listener to a dream-like place through melancholy lyrics and wavy guitar riffs. From there, Papercuts test their ground with multiple different sounds throughout the album. Tracks such as ‘The Laughing Man’ and ‘Kathleen Says’ (Tracks 2 and 6) construct a Beatles-esque sound by playing with the dream pop element of their sound. On the contrary, tracks such as ‘Sing to Me Candy’ and ‘Waking Up’ (Tracks 4 and 9) uses shoegaze to create a sound similar to a less-rock-focused version of My Bloody Valentine. However, the two sounds meet perfectly on ‘All Along St. Mary’s’ (Track 8) as a story is told through riffs that are both slow-paced and spatial.
When the group combines its two unique sounds together on one track, the album shines the most. However, the album does not do this enough. It usually leans either to one sound or the other. When Papercuts puts the two sounds together, we get phenomenal tracks such as ‘All Along St. Mary’s’ (Track 8). While there are some fantastic songs that do side with one sound over another, there are some that are not as effective. However, for every step backwards this album makes, it makes three or four steps forward. Despite not utilizing every ounce of potential that the group had, “Parallel Universe Blues” is still a great album. It is bittersweet in all of the best ways.
Recommended If You Like: Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Slowdive
Recommended Tracks: 2 (The Laughing Man), 8 (All Along St. Mary’s), 9 (Waking Up)
Do Not Play: 7 (Walk Backwards)
Written by Graham Wilhauk on 11/02/2018