Album review: Paper Scissors will “Never Surrender”

Jeremia Schrock
Feb. 22, 2011

Paper Scissors has been haunting Fairbanks with their mix of guitar- and synthesizer-based sounds for the better part of six years. The core of the band is composed of Craig Brookes (guitar/vocals), Ryan Schmidt (drums) and the multi-talented Isaac Paris (organ/synthesizers/bass/accordion/theremin). For any “Doctor Who” fans out there, the theremin is what gives the show’s theme song its unique sound.

For those with a more eclectic and indie bend for music, Paper Scissors offers the best sounds of bands like Vampire Weekend, Portugal, The Man, Netherfriends and The Benevento/Russo duo. Since the album is so good, I’m going to discuss a few of the songs that I really enjoyed.

Lost in the Crowd

Craig Brookes’ voice is gorgeous: it’s deep, meaningful and tinged with longing. To really get an idea for his pipes, take a listen to this song. The “strong-man-about-to-break” feel of his voice isn’t so much chilling as it is honest. When he sings, “How will I learn to live without you? Who’ll put me in my place? Who’ll gloat at my every disgrace?” you feel nothing but sympathy. You want to hug him.

Houdini

“Houdini” is pure mischief. It doesn’t hurt that it sounds like something out of an independent French film. Think “Le Grande Voyage” or “Monsieur Ibrahim.” This is one of those instrumental pieces where everything fits together perfectly. Paris’ accordion and piano are beautiful, and Brooke’s guitar solo in the middle is, well, sick. If I were shooting a Wes Anderson-styled film, this song would be in it.

Fired all my friends

This track reminds me a great deal of Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up,” famously heard in the trailer for “Where the Wild Things Are.” Both Arcade Fire’s and Paper Scissors’ songs are reminiscent of the unbound energy of childhood, the only difference being that “Fired all my friends” is slightly less frantic. Which is nice. Sure we were all children at one point, but that doesn’t mean we were always pinging off the walls. “Fired all my Friends” is not pingy.

Overall, I have to give the band and the album both 4 out of 5 stars. They’re fantastic and have solidified their spot as one of the best musical groups in the city. I would feel no qualms saying Sweating Honey, the Good Daze and Paper Scissors together in one breadth. The sheer depth of their music, layering stringed instruments with electronic affects is sublime. The only disappointment I feel about their album is that I didn’t listen to it sooner.

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