Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: The Paper Chase - Someday This Could All Be Yours, Vol. 1 (* * * 1/2)

The Paper Chase, led by music producer John Congleton, are back with a new record entitled Someday This Could All Be Yours, Vol 1, the band's fifth full-length effort and the first of a two-part series which will be completed next year. The group is known for their avant-garde hardcore sound that combines a wealth of disparate influences in a noisy, messy mix, putting the band in a league all their own and attracting general critical acclaim as well. The new album doesn't change the formula much, but since there wasn't much of one to begin with, This Could All Be Yours sounds familiar while maintaining its distinctness from the group's other releases.

It should be readily apparent from the opening jolt of "If Nobody Moves Nobody Will Get Hurt (The Extinction)," that you're in for a wild ride during the record's 46 minutes. The song crashes about with sinister string arrangements and thumping drums, teetering just on the edge of sanity where the record spends almost all of its time. Occasionally, some more pop-oriented tendencies show through the noise, like the almost sing-a-long chorus of "I'm Going To Heaven With Or Without You (The Forest Fire)" or the manic verses of "The Laying Of Hands The Speaking In Tongues (The Mass Hysteria)," but The Paper Chase are usually less concerned with melody and harmony than with dissonance and intriguing chord progressions to present their intriguing, cacophonous symphony.

From my description, it should be obvious that This Could All Be Yours is not for everyone. In fact, even the initiated might have a difficult time digesting the whole thing in one sitting, but it's also quite easy to appreciate the craft involved. The clamoring piano,thunderous guitars, and off-kilter tenor squawk combined with Congleton's spastic, doom-and-gloom lyrics make this anything but easy listening, but there is some true method to the madness. Patches of relative calm break up walls of noise and the songs crescendo into magnificent metal anthems and back into dark bits of paranoia (especially "What Should We Do With Your Body? [The Lightning]") in a way that keeps you glued to the speakers even when you're on the verge of insanity yourself.

I over-simplified in the first paragraph when I suggested The Paper Chase sound unlike anybody else, but until you hear for yourself, it's about impossible to describe the simultaneously awe-inspiring, frustrating, and genuinely intense experience that is This Could All Be Yours, Vol 1. With some patience and an open mind, this is a record that might surprise you with its impressive musicianship and boundary-pushing approach to hardcore alternative music.

Stream What Should We Do With Your Body? (The Lightning) on The Paper Chase's site for a preview of the record or check the tune out on MySpace.


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