Monday, 15 August 2016

Album Review: Paper Thin by Paper Thin (by Emma Prew)

Paper Thin are a recently formed four-piece emo / pop punk band from Newcastle, Australia (not to be confused with Newcastle, northern England). Last month they recorded their debut EP and last week it was released to the world. Colin was originally going to review this, after discovering Paper Thin himself on Bandcamp. But when he shared the link with me – as he does when he finds music that he particularly likes and thinks I will too – and I had a listen, he suggested I review the EP instead… because I loved it!

There are 5 tracks on this debut EP and first up is State Of Your Life, Mate. The song sort of feels like a bit of an introduction, not only to the EP, but also to the band themselves. It’s a very short song at only 1 minute and 13 seconds, yet it instantly shows just how good this band and this debut EP are. Of course there are obvious comparisons to Wil Wagner and The Smith Street Band, not least for the Australian accented vocals, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Lyrically the song deals with admitting how you’re feeling (not okay) and working out what to do next in your life. Just when the song gets to what you think is the chorus – ‘I’m so homesick, for where I left and where I crawled back, I’m so homesick, now I don’t know where I am anymore…’  – it ends. Which definitely left me wanting more!

And I wasn’t left wanting for very long as the second track, Sixteen Months, kicks in immediately where State Of Your Life, Mate left off. Sixteen Months is a song that was previously written as a solo track by Paper Thin’s singer and bassist, Spencer Scott. However the version on this release is a reworking of the original with the full band – I haven’t heard the original so I can’t comment on the differences though. The song begins fairly slowly, with only guitar at first. But after the first couple of lines of the song, the drums kick in as well as some more melodic guitar – great stuff. There is real sense of progression in the song as the music gets louder towards the second verse and then just before the chorus there are some wonderful oohs from, I assume, other members of the band. Paper Thin describe their music as ‘emo’ which is certainly reflected in the lyrical content – A leaping heart, controlled by an anxious mind. I'm still waiting on hold, for you to say you're mine. In sixteen months nothing has changed, I'm still falling for you and you don't feel the same.’

Hotel Spencer is another song that has been reimagined for this EP. This song has a bit of a different feel to the previous two, I think I would say that it’s more angry. But I definitely mean angry in a good way! The kind of anger that is liberating and, for the listener, has you with your fist in the air and screaming along – at least, that’s what I imagine for this song. Like the previous tracks, this song has a similar theme of anxiety and insecurity which I know is something that many of us can relate to in our own way. Spencer sings about feeling more comfortable performing than in day-to-day life – music is, after all, a form of release. ‘I am 1,028 kilometres from home. I am the furthest I have ever been on my own. But I feel safer on this stage that I do back home, watching myself go nowhere in the corner of this room.’ 

I must admit that when Colin first linked me to the Bandcamp page for Paper Thin and I spotted the word ‘Japan’, I got quite excited (I’m a huge Japanophile, if you didn’t know). Japan Song, written by the band’s drummer Liam Tobin, is very different to the rest of the tracks on the EP in that it’s a far less serious song – and much more on the pop punk side of things. From the opening lines ‘I don’t want to work today, I’d rather be on holiday’, you can tell what sort of feel this song is going to have. It’s fun, it’s super catchy and full of some clever rhymes. My favourite line is ‘Let’s go, time to go, Go adopt a Totoro’ – and if you don’t know what a Totoro is, click here. I love Japan Song and it’s a refreshing addition to the EP.

By complete contrast the closing track on Paper Thin, Haircut, is, well, much less cheery. The song is a fairly slow paced one that begins with gentle guitar. When the vocals start – For my birthday you took me to a barber, and you bought me a nice haircut.’you can hear every bit of emotion. I also sensed an air of resentment or bitterness increasing as the song goes on. It seems an odd subject to write a song about – getting a haircut – but it’s clear that the song is about more than that. I imagine that the line at the end of the song – ‘I really fucked up the sideburns. I know I fucked it up.’ – could be interpreted as being about more than just a haircut.

If Paper Thin sound like your cup of tea, you can download the EP on Bandcamp which comes with PDFs for a full lyric sheet, liner notes and… instructions on how to make an origami dinosaur head! Which, by the way, I gave a go but I’m not convinced I followed all of the steps correctly.

You can also like Paper Thin on Facebook. Go, go, go!