The Paper Chase – Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know

The Paper Chase
Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know

It’s not often that you find a band that you can claim is truly unique. That happens even less often when you are listening to dozens of albums a week and reviewing six to 10 of them. So when a band does have a completely fresh and unique feel, you can forgive them if their music is a bit disconcerting, sometimes even frightening. The Paper Chase’s music has those qualities, both unique and slightly unnerving.
The music of The Paper Chase falls somewhere between the organized chaos of math-core and the disorganized aspects of their own unique blend of powerful, emotional indie rock. Be prepared to be assaulted with crashes of drums and piano, blasts of guitar and bass, shouted (yet completely coherent –this isn’t hardcore) vocals, and a complete sense of disorientation. But there is definitely a method to this band’s madness. Many of these songs do honestly rock in a sincere and painstakingly honest way.
The album starts off with “This May Be the Last Song You Ever Hear,” a frightening prospect in itself. With crashing piano, discordant bursts of guitar, and shouted vocals, you may just believe that title, as it flows into “These Things Happen.” Things calm down a bit with “Ever Since the Turn,” which has more like sung vocals and fantastic guitar-rock that even hints at a grandiose feel ala the new Modest Mouse. I absolutely love the crescendos of percussion and piano that make up “Neat Manageable Piles.” There’s even some strings, which adds to the haunting quality of this song. Things go all to hell on the chaotic and noisy “Can I Pour You Another Drink, Lover?” a frantically riotous track that nonetheless manages to maintain a sense of melody and structure. The piano is used here perfectly, running a flowing little loop beneath the surface of the song. Fans of Modest Mouse’s slightly off-kilter approach will appreciate songs like “Off With Their Heads,” a slightly discordant but still overwhelmingly rock song in nature. Damn, this is some fantastically bitter stuff. The absurdly long-titled “Paperwork” (It’s repeated about 200 times, I shortened it to once) is another high-powered rock track that’s all over the place but doesn’t totally lose control. The playful little “When You Least Expect It” sounds as if it’s played on a toy piano, and it leads nicely into the 8-minute closer, “When (and if) the Big One Hits…I’ll Just Meet You There,” one of the most restrained songs here with a lot more melody and a nice sense of finality.
Probably the most interesting thing here is “Goddamn These Hands (I Let Them Touch You),” a recorded message of a girl breaking up with a guy set to discordant and absolutely perfect accompanying music. While she checks the other line, the music explodes, then calms as she comes back to continue saying “We should concentrate on being friends.” The music has a wry, sardonic feel. “I need time to concentrate on myself,” she says. Who hasn’t heard that one before?
I think the thing that makes this band unique the most is the noises they use. Samples of voices (including Ernest Hemingway), crashes, loops, and other effects mix effortlessly with these songs. Couple that with extensive use of piano and songwriting that doesn’t just stretch the boundaries but rips them into little pieces, and you get something that’s fresh and wonderful. Oh yes, it’s wonderful, even if it is a bit frightening. I think the band likes it that way.