Paper Lions – Split 12" EP

Paper Lions
Split 12" EP

In their touring experience, I Am the World Trade Center and Paper Lions crossed paths, as is usual for these split releases. The result is a vinyl-only release that pairs up the two diverse projects, but then often these split releases work better for their versatility than a pairing of two like-minded bands who seem to ape each other’s influences.

The Trade Center teases its latest full-length album with the highly catchy and yet attitude-infused “No Expectations,” a stellar song that nicely sets the stage for the release. In the band’s usual style, the two musicians trade off lyrics, lay on catchy beats, and get the crowd dancing. But then things take a different bent. “Show You Down,” is a Minority Report remix of the Trade Center’s cover of the Stone Roses’ track. Much more ethereal and flowing, it’s a sweet song, with organic percussion and lush production that brings out a new side to singer Amy Dykes’ fantastic voice. Fortunately, the remix reins in the studio efforts just enough to keep this a gorgeous song. The last track is a Trade Center cover of the Human Leagues’ “Don’t You Want Me,” which the band plays often live. The beat is familiar, but the vocals are so swamped with vocoder that it gives the whole song a robotic, cold feel, unfortunately, at least until the familiar chorus.

On its three songs, the Paper Lions forego the modern post-punk that, honestly, never had done much for me in the past. These songs are decidedly early post-punk in nature, taking a page from Wire and Gang of Four. “Mission Statement” kicks things off with a catchy beat and very late-70s attitude-infused vocals that sound more than a little British. I prefer the more catchy “Line-Up,” which really puts the focus squarely on the band’s stellar guitarwork. “Every Time” is especially fitting for this release, because Dykes takes over on lead vocals, evoking images of early Blondie, which her voice has always hinted at.

I am more impressed by the Paper Lions’ songs than I had been by any of the band’s previous work. There’s something still rather derivative here, as if this band is finding its own sound by first going back to the bands that have inspired it, which portends great promise for the future. I Am the World Trade Center, on the other hand, is at the top of its game, these two artists never sounding more mature and tight. So this is a fine release, worth it especially for the slick remix of “Shoot You Down” and the new sound of Paper Lions.