Review Summary: A wingspan as massive as it is fragile...
The Paper Kites are essentially what they claim to be: a delicate and innocent toy that manages to soar above the rest. Flying their album from the place down under, styles of indie pop/rock and subtle electronic elements are infused together in a most tranquil manner. This doesn’t result in a forced amalgamation of an album that similar bands tend to produce. Instead they manages to craft a paper kite of an album that’s wingspan is as massive as it is fragile. With the first track, “Malleable Beings”, the listener will be serenaded with subtle harmonies that are set adrift into the air. The chorus of this song is particularly catchy, and also helps to cement exactly what The Paper Kites are trying to accomplish. Even a glance at the beautiful album art, a personal eye candy of mine, can give any listener expectations to what this may sound like.
The intertwined male and female vocals ride tangent to the softest clouds, creating a sense of lift and delicacy. Easily acting as the focal point of the album, the singing is just flat out beautiful. There’s no struggle, no sadness or hate, just sincerity. The textured layers of guitar chords and background synth cradle this sincerity because alone it could not survive. This stronger gilding of atmosphere never begs for attention, as if it were as transparent as the imagery of clouds it paints. This allows one too really appreciate the musicianship, rather than the star player.
One of the strongest songs on the record, “A Lesson From Mr. Gray”, can be seen as hard hitting in its context to the rest. While it could easily represent a ballad on any other album, the unexpected dissonant guitar chords help to resonate the singer’s soft voice. A groovy bass line also supports a very catchy guitar lead during vocal intermissions. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it juxtaposition as it bleeds into the other songs nicely, but it is truly a separable and standout experience.
The album tends to rely on the same tranquil tone too often, and this can seem too demanding. Since attention is rarely begged for, The Paper Kites can’t expect to always hold the floor. It’s hard to make it through an hour of an album that seeps more happiness and comfort than one may ever feel in a lifetime. But perhaps that’s the point, because like a plane, the travel it brings is seemingly improbable to the naked mind while still maintaining a sense of comfort and safety despite all odds. You trust the architects and engineers that mastermind the creation only because you have no other choice: their child can, undisputedly, fly.