Being able to take the time to review albums like Denizens’ Paper Boats E.P. is the reason I love doing what I do for Divide and Conquer. I am positively smitten with this album, the quality is undeniable. Denizens took today’s modern ambient alternative sound and put a few novel touches on it. There’s a lot to love for just five tracks so allow me to dive in.
The band was formed in Austin, Texas from musicians who all had previous band experience. Each member has different eclectic tastes and preferences for what they want to achieve with their music. It was explained in their submission that it was imperative everyone in the band feel that their personal touch was present in the music.
A good chunk of the album’s recording and production was done at the home of guitarist Colin Clay with added assistance from 5th Street Studios. Mixing and mastering was done by a friend of the band Steve Williams. I want to commend every who worked on the production because this album sounds like a million bucks.
Thank goodness for the top-notch audio which made it easier to take in the heartfelt lyrics on all five tracks. As far as lyrics go, “Tangled Strings” really had me swooning. All of the lyrics on the album are excellent and deeply personal. The icing on the cake for these words is that they are belted out by lead vocalist Chris Michael. Michael possesses a stunning, high ranged voice that completely slayed me. What I love about his singing style is that he takes a more classical approach, holding onto notes. This helps separate the music from what’s already out there in this genre. A lot of vocalists push for a more mechanical sound. Michael creates a nice contrast to the electric elements.
I cannot express enough how engaging and cool the music is. Another thing that really sets their sound apart in the alternative realm is the length of the tracks. Where most bands like to keep things short and sweet, these guys are unafraid to explore the music further. All of the tracks are north of four minutes and most pushing or above five. I loved this.
It set a calmer pace for the album and really lets the listener enjoy everything and digest the music properly. The first track on the album, “Time Won’t Wait” is my absolute favorite both musically and lyrically. The percussion really kicks things up a notch. As soon as I heard it, Denizens had sealed the deal for me, I was a goner. My only wish for the album was a little more diversity in the sound of the tracks. It was most noticeable with “Paper Boats” which on the musical end fell a little flat for me because of its similarities to the others. A still enjoyable track, just missing that something extra.
My only other regret upon listening to this album is that I have no opportunity to hear this band live anytime soon, I imagine that would be a worthwhile experience. I’ll go ahead and say the obvious, buy the album, it’s well worth the five bucks, ‘nuff said.
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