Review Summary: After making strides towards a confident, defined sound in Brazillant!, Wisconsin natives Paris, Texas offer up an EP slightly more shadowed in mediocrity.
It won't be news to anyone for me to state that there is quite the expanse of music out there these days. Add to this the internet's ever-broadening presence in the music industry, and suddenly an endless stream of new music is never more than a few clicks away. On one hand, this makes accessing your favorite new indie-pop-jazzcore band that much easier. However, it also creates a bit of a challenge for groups that are trying to really stand out, to leave you with a sound in your ears that keeps you wanting more and more and more. Again, it goes without me even saying it that so much of these dynamic groups are practically drowning in an inundation of plug-my-iPod-into-the-monitor-and-rap-over-the-trite-GarageBand-beat-about-***ing-bitches-and-getting-money "bands". I won't mention any names, I don't want 3OH!3, Millionaires, Breathe Carolina, etc. to feel too hurt.
Anyways, back to Paris, Texas. A few weeks before Christmas, Polyvinyl Record Co. (Japandroids, of Montreal, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin) had an online Christmas sale. After perusing their site for a few moments, I decided to purchase three Paris, Texas CD's. (Total price after shipping was still a single digit, I couldn't resist.) Upon the arrival of my new mysterious music, I decided listening to it in chronological order would make the most sense. Thus, in popped their first LP, So You Think It's Hot Here". Now I wouldn't say I was disappointed by the debut record, I just wasn't overly impressed. Even after a handful more listens, it sounded not too far off from anything I had already heard. Next up was Brazilliant!, an EP for which I had some rather dwarfish expectations. Wait a minute….no! These guys seem to be finding a good sound for themselves….a sort of Jawbreaker meets Archers of Loaf with a slightly more poppy feel and just a touch of emo. Brazilliant! definitely stayed in my player for quite a few more revolutions than the previous record. Expectations were a tad elevated for the third disc, a 5-song EP entitled "Action Fans Help Us!". This anticipation was further augmented by the aesthetics of the disc itself, whose outside inch of diameter is a clear plastic layer encompassing the standard CD material in the middle. (I know it's not THAT original, but I still thought it looked pretty cool. Scratch that, I thought it looked WAY fricken gnarly, judge me.)
So, maybe I'll actually talk a little bit about Action Fans Help Us! now. The record starts with its title track, a three minute number with overly ambitious anthemic qualities and uninspiring lyrics which really just seem to be one big run on sentence. Really, the track sort of collapses on itself; it contains nothing of substantial enough quality to hold up its cumbersome words and attempted emotion. Overall, I'll give the song a 5/10.
The second track, entitled "Gemini", doesn't do much to change the status quo. It starts right off with a grating, repetitive, bothersome melody that just begs to be stuck in your head all day, in the worst way possible. It doesn't get much better from here, with more rambling, uninterested lyrics set over a semi-monotonous musical backdrop. Come on, Paris, Texas! I thought we were making some progress here! If this song has anything of value, it's the engagement of dueling vocals just prior to the three minute mark, sort of reminiscent of some of that old Taking Back Sunday sound. For the track, 2/10
"Your Death", the record's "hump" song, seeks to turn things around a bit. It is a song that suggests Paris, Texas haven't completely abandoned their Brazilliant! sound. Mixing just the right amount of poppiness with slightly more inspiring lyrics and a bit of lo-fi post-punk, the track provides at least a smidgeon of hope for Action Fans Help Us! 6/10
If there is a premier song on this record, I'd have to say "One Hot Coma" is it. Taking all of the things that made Brazilliant! so likable and meshing them with twangier words, energized guitars, and more pounding drums, "One Hot Coma" represents exactly what I'd like to hear from Paris, Texas. They really seem to have fun with this track, and I have fun listening to it. 7/10
The final track of Action Fans Help Us! isn't much to remember. I've always found that a band can make or break a record with the final song (a.k.a. every Noah & The Whale album). Despite a seemingly heartfelt and abrupt last few seconds, "Strike My Heart" really doesn't render me begging for more Paris, Texas. I'll give the track a generous 4/10
So there you have it, 5 + 2 + 6 + 7 + 4 = 24. 10 x 5 = 50. 24/50 = 2.4, Sputnik says 2.5. Overall, a bit of a disappointing record from pop-punk rockers Paris, Texas.