The four-piece Brooklyn based group Paper Daggers has put together a beautiful three-song self-titled EP Paper Daggers that is filled with layered, dreamy landscapes perfect for the open road or just tripping out on. It made me want to find my beloved Cure trilogy of Sixteen Seconds, Faith and Pornography, not to mention Disintegration. Atmospheric, dreamscape pop-rock songs some affectionately call shoegaze have captured my imagination ever since the days Bowie recorded his Berlin trilogy with Brian Eno or The Unforgettable Fire with U2. Did I mention The Cure’s Disintegration? This debut is a real treat for those who love echoing, ethereal vocals, shuffling low, drum beats and dark, driving guitar riffs.
The aching, melancholic nature of singer Nicola brings to mind the mesmerizing voice of Poliça’s Channy Leaneagh and Nico when she sang with The Velvet Underground, but not as deep and sinister as the German femme fatale. Although the vocals are not as depressing as one might think with this kind of music, for example “I am here when you need someone to talk to” in the opener “Small” this song could very well be about that dark place where one cannot find their way out of and the friend who wants to help them but feels terribly helpless.
The song “Wash” is aptly titled. The instruments and vocals have that multi-layered sound where the four become one. The drums are really great on this one - cymbals break through, the thundering, dragging beat of the floor toms keep up the trippy, dance-like beat and the keys reverberate as if one is hearing them inside an echoing chamber hall.
The last song “Between Moments” has a sense of urgency to it. The tempo is faster, the bass line is beautiful and the ticking of the drumsticks is a nice addition. The drive and tempo of each song on this EP are strong enough to stand on their own; each have the band’s signature sound but yet, in my opinion, are good enough to put out as separate singles or add them to a full album when the time comes.
Overall, Paper Daggers’ short EP that ends somewhere around the 12-minute mark sounds as polished as any full-length album and it was hard to find anything to be super critical about. However, I wanted to hear the vocals with a little more clarity and the keys to stand out a bit more as well. But perhaps this is the band’s intent all along – to capture the meshing of the two instruments which bring forth that dark, dreamy sound. I also expected the songs to be a little longer, too – especially “Between Moments.” Maybe my ear has been more accustomed to three-minute pop songs, while atmospheric sonic structures, like on this EP, should be more like seven to eight minutes of orchestral progressive art rock. And with that, I think I just dated myself. I eagerly wait to hear more from this Brooklyn band.
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