Album Review: Faded Paper Figures, “New Medium”

7 Jun

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Faded Paper Figures – Invent It All Again by MikeRog10

By Nate Jackson

The market for smart electropop is in another boom period lately. And bands like Los Angeles/New Haven, CT based Faded Paper Figures remind us that someday college kids with Casio keyboards will inherit the earth (if they haven’t already). Just a year after their well-received debut, Dynamo, the synth savvy trio of R. John Williams, Kael Alden and Heather Alden return with New Medium. Striking a balance between digital foundations and raw human instincts, this sophomore release emerges with a fresh and fleshed-out approach to the once Irvine-based Faded Paper Figure’s modern, aural architecture.

Starting off with one of their most entertaining tracks, the band takes you straight to the dance floor with the stretchy, distorted synths of “Invent It All Again.” The vocal chemistry between Williams and Alden is key for the band’s sound to pop during Kael’s angular drumming and the ornamental plucks and pings that retain their luster throughout the record.

Flexing their collegiate vocabularies and Nintendo-inspired beats, the heart of the album encompasses great tracks like “You Know What I Mean,” which find sparkling moments or creativity in the midst of borrowing formulas from any band ever fronted by Ben Gibbard. They also do something that a lot of bands in the sharp and stylish world of synth rock fail to do: harvest an amalgam of clean, sterile sounds without sounding totally bloodless. The slow, cinematic trails of “Rewind” are a great example of the bliss that occurs when wires, hardware and MIDIs find a way to connect to a bands hearts as well as their fingers.

Things manage to get a little more abrasive towards the middle of the album. Turning up their intensity on “Small Talk” sounds like an ill-advised decision—OK, mostly it’s just that manic telephone ring effect that gets a little grating after a while. They manage to get the concept right on the very next track, unleashing a deluge of hand claps, machine gun drumming and roaring chorus of “oohs and ahhs” on “One More Crash,” an appropriate soundtrack to a frenzied, weekend rush down the 101. Though it seems logical to end the album with their song titled “When the Book Ends,” their lyrics about the proliferation of our tech-obsessed culture could have also been great to hear at the top of the track listing. Either way, it’s a beautifully moody vignette that boasts some of the best lines of the album: “These days, a letter’s like a freeze frame./All the old ways, get cluttered in the bric brac bones of the day.” It’s not something you’d expect the band to lament about in an album called New Medium, but in age where people are starting to forget life before Twitter, we’re certainly glad that they did.

Faded Paper Figures are scheduled to play Thursday, July 29 at The Continental Room in Fullerton (21+) with The Colourist and The Color Turning; fadedpaperfigures.com.

Faded Paper Figures – Small Talk by MikeRog10

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One Response to “Album Review: Faded Paper Figures, “New Medium””

  1. bambootip June 9, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Good commentary about the album. Appreciate it!

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