On Papercuts’ 2007 album Can’t Go Back, Jason Quever mastered a warm, vintage-sounding style of pop music. While Quever’s tunes shared some sonic similarities to those by chums Vetiver, even more so, they were pastiches of brilliantly crackly classics from the ’60s and ’70s. Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Lee Hazlewood and Love all had a seat at the influences table, though Quever still managed to funnel them into a glorious new pop concoction all his own.
With Papercuts’ latest album You Can Have What You Want, Quever’s motivation is still in crafting warm and crackly pop songs. Yet where he once gave them a rustic folk touch or swathed them in garage rock fuzz, here he allows his music to take a more modern touch, sounding more airy and heady than ever. Not quite shoegazer and not quite Mazzy Star, the songs on You Can Have What You Want have a hazy beauty about them, somber yet aurally dazzling with all of its reverb-heavy layers.
In passing, the shift away from the retro psych-folk of Can’t Go Back may not seem so dramatic, but as one immerses himself in You Can Have What You Want, it’s more than apparent that Quever has taken an entirely new approach here. Songs are bigger and longer, melodies are subtler, organs and guitar effects are more prevalent. And all of this is made clear within the beautiful first track, “Once We Walked In the Sunlight.” Quever’s voice sounds softer, less commanding, yet the song’s arrangement is much heavier sounding, with its rumbling bassline beneath Yo La Tengo-like sheets of rich guitar tone and keyboards.
Quever’s voice even sounds like Georgia Hubley’s humble and enchanting vocals as he reaches high registers in the catchy samba-pop of “Dictator’s Lament.” On softer tracks like “The Machine Will Tell Us So” and “Dead Love,” drone has a way of taking over, eschewing more obvious melodies for a textured, hypnotic approach. It’s one glorious fog, but Quever packs the album with enough upbeat highs to offset some of the quieter, more meditative tracks. “A Peculiar Hallelujah” begins slowly, as if the song needs a moment to breathe before really getting off the ground, but as it builds, it becomes a magnificent standout, with a dense arrangement that stands as one of Quever’s most beautiful compositions. Single “Future Primitive,” meanwhile, balances a memorable bassline with a kick-and-snare beat that recalls a slowed-down “Young Folks,” until its trippy chorus sets in, and it becomes something else entirely.
As fun and fuzzy as Can’t Go Back was, Papercuts’ evolution on You Can Get What You Want reveals a greater artistic maturity that yields greater rewards as each song is allowed to unfold at its own pace. It’s not a particularly complex album, just enough for one to get blissfully lost in its serene and seductive melodies.
Beach House – Devotion
Lilys – Eccsame the Photon Band
Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out
MP3: “Future Primitive”
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.