Right off the bat, there’s something noticeably different about Caesars. “Spirit,” the leadoff track from their latest, Paper Tigers, is longer, more epic and more emotionally powerful than anything the band has done before. Trading in lines like “Baby you’ve got ears just like Dumbo, it’s so sweet,” for more personal lyrics, such as “Running through these empty streets/the city’s built for you and me” and “Don’t give up, you’re almost there.” One might be led to believe that Caesars have become a more “serious” band, and in some respects, they are. But they haven’t sacrificed any of the fun that made 39 Minutes of Bliss so enjoyable. The overall sound hasn’t changed dramatically, but there’s clearly something a little bit different than before.
On Paper Tigers, the Swedish garage rockers seem to be just that much better than before. It’s a subtle difference, but it’s clear that there has been some growth within the band, perhaps due to better recording, or a higher budget, thanks to the fine people at Apple Computers for using “Jerk It Out” in commercials for their ever-popular iPod. That very song appears here in re-mixed form, though it’s the songs that come before and after it that are particularly worthy of note.
Unlike 39 Minutes of Bliss, which was basically a singles compilation, Paper Tigers is a proper album. You see, Caesars first debuted in the states as The Twelve Caesars with Youth is Wasted on the Young some six years ago, and 7 of the songs from that album ended up on 39 Minutes of Bliss. Though they were good, they were hardly anything new and, if nothing else, released on a slightly better format, coupled with five more super-catchy tracks. Here, however, the sequencing seems a little better, highs are juxtaposed well with lows and there’s a better flow to the record, as opposed to a non-stop stream of high-energy rock songs.
This record, for one, starts off with a relatively slow song. Though “Spirit” builds up into a rocker, it’s far from the amphetamine pace of tracks like “Let’s Go Parking, Baby” or “Sort it Out.” “It’s Not the Fall That Hurts” and “Out There” are great mid-tempo tunes, leading into “Jerk It Out,” the tune that everyone will have familiarized themselves with before hearing the record. “May The Rain” is a bouncy organ-driven track that recalls mid-sixties British Invasion bands like The Zombies, The title track piles on the reverb and twinkly keyboard backing, as Cesar Vidal hits more high notes than usual. As the record draws well into the second half, the organ tends to overpower the rest of the instruments, though all the songs maintain their overall sense of catchiness and melodicism.
Paper Tigers is a great second or third effort from Caesars, and certainly a lot better than many expected. This is the band, after all, that took shit for not being The Hives. If you ask me, that can only make them better. The jokiness of before has been put aside for better songwriting on this record, and even if it does come across more “serious,” it’s still super fun. And if it makes you feel any better, there are some pictures of naughty paper dolls on the inside sleeve. I guess they didn’t want to get too serious after all.
The Features – Exhibit A
The 22-20s – The 22-20s
Superdrag – Last Call For Vitriol
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.