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Absence

Paper Route

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Album Review

Taking their cues from '80s synth pop, new wave, and the bedroom electronica of the Postal Service, Paper Route make their full-length debut with Absence, an album whose quiet grandeur is strikingly reminiscent of Stars of Track and Field's Centuries Before Love and War. At its strongest, Paper Route's twittering, textured music is both melodically and structurally engaging, its riffs flanked by electronic blips and speaker-to-speaker pans that help widen the band's palette. Lead-off track "Enemy Among Us" is one of the album's strongest, a nuanced fusion of piano, echoing percussion, and harmonized vocals that aptly jumpstarts Absence despite its midtempo gait. Elsewhere, the band peppers the track list with speedy laptop anthems, from "Last Time" (whose stadium-sized guitars give way to a disjointed rhythmic bridge) to the gauzy soundscapes of "Carousel." Tracks like "Be Healed" are too overzealous in their retro atmospherics, however, with vocalists J.T. Daly and Andy Smith attempting a seductive, Prince-styled falsetto that ends up sounding more karaoke than commanding. Similar missteps plague "Gutter" and "Dance on Our Graves," the latter of which features entire choruses sung in fervent falsetto, but Absence's strengths often outweigh those errors, making this album a perfectly adequate destination for fans of technicolor, atmospheric pop.

Biography

Formed: Nashville, TN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Blending digital-age pop/rock with ambient electronics, the Nashville-based Paper Route had their start in the summer of 2004, when Chad Howat began staying up all night in his apartment while making music with a variety of instruments and programmed samples. Former bandmate J.T. Daly joined the effort, followed one month later by the arrival of another former bandmate, Andy Smith, who added vocals, guitar, harmonica, and synthesizer to the mix. Following some further contributions, the trio soon...
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Absence, Paper Route
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