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twelve­four The Pa­per Kites Won­der­lick/Sony

Mel­bourne quin­tet the Pa­per Kites’ mu­sic has taken a few tan­gents since the de­light­ful 2010 sin­gle Bloom, a del­i­cate, folkie pop gem that hinted at Si­mon & Gar­funkel, Bon Iver and a lessis-more acous­tic aes­thetic. Lo­cal pro­ducer Wayne Con­nolly had a hand in shap­ing that sound, in­clud­ing on the band’s de­but al­bum, States, in 2013. For this fol­low-up the Kites upped sticks to Seat­tle to record with US pro­ducer Phil Ek, whose cre­den­tials with Fleet Foxes, Fa­ther John Misty and the Shins seem well suited to the Pa­per Kites’ off-kil­ter folk-pop. Singer, gui­tarist and song­writer Sam Bent­ley ex­plores themes of iso­la­tion, long­ing and in­ner tur­moil gen­er­ally, inspired in his vi­sion by writ­ing the ma­te­rial be­tween the hours of mid­night and 4am over a two-month pe­riod, a con­cept that gives the al­bum its ti­tle. “This quiet des­per­a­tion is killing me too,” he and gui­tarist Christina Lacy har­monise on the ex­quis­ite acous­tic bal­lad A Silent Cause. These two voices meld even more suc­cess­fully on another quiet mo­ment, Turns Within Me, Turns With­out Me. A sim­i­larly sparse and haunting am­bi­ence in­hab­its Neon Crim­son, with Bent­ley’s voice at its most sweet and mourn­ful over an eerie elec­tric guitar mo­tif. In con­trast there are some de­light­fully brisk pop hooks in the fuller band songs, not least the open­ing Elec­tric Indigo, which com­bines an elec­tro-pop sen­si­bil­ity with a killer melody and soar­ing, ir­re­sistible cho­rus. Twelve­four is sublime and se­duc­tive.

Iain Shed­den

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