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Paper Route - Absence Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7.25
Lyrics 7.25
Production 8
Creativity 7.75
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7
Final Verdict: 73%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.25
Musicianship 8.96
Lyrics 9
Production 9.14
Creativity 9
Lasting Value 9.04
Reviewer Tilt 8.96
Average: 91%
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Paper Route - Absence

Reviewed by: Steve Henderson (07/31/09)
Paper RouteAbsence
Release Date: April 28, 2009
Record Label: Universal

I hate to say, I am extremely grateful for bands like Paper Route. I mean, just look at all the Cobra Starships and such out there – intent on turning the synth into a kitschy antiquity – as obsolete and gimmicky as the keytar, used only for novelty and pulp. Paper Route seem to take issue with this sort of relegation, and thankfully so. This Nashville-bred band seems out to prove that synth-pop can be weighty, layered, and above all, meaningful. Absence is the sort of record that takes this up like a position paper, and argues it right where the group’s last two EPs left off.

Of course, while they might be champions of a noble cause, Paper Route are far from infallible. Absence is a good record, to be sure, but it stumbles along at various points throughout the course of its twelve tracks. The songs tend to be subjected to questionable decision-making that dulls their indented impact, and that of the record overall. The opener, “Enemy Among Us,” is a spacey, moody sort of tune, but it feels like the track languishes in that fogginess instead of escalating to something more noteworthy. Granted, the effect is better received with headphones, but it is still a little sedate for casual consumption. Thankfully, Paper Route snaps out of it right after that, “Wish” is a well-developed soft/loud contrast piece that confidently walks the line between modern and eighties-minded retro-throwback rock. “Carousel,” conversely, is much more concussive and modern, but ends up being held back by a floating softball of a chorus.

Absence switches gears with the gorgeous and affecting “Good Intentions,” which despite being extremely deliberate and arguably unoriginal (where have I heard this melody before?), is still a haunting killer of a cut. After that, though, “Tiger Teeth” doubles back to the turf of earlier glam-ish numbers, incorporating another catchy hook marred only by a grating pre-chorus. And if the “so I try-try-try…” of "Tiger Teeth" got on your nerves, the overly dramatic “whoo-hoo-oooh” of “Be Healed” will have the same wet blanket effect on an otherwise poignant composition. The album gains traction towards the end with the unexpectedly gritty (but entirely satisfying) “Gutter” and majestic sweep of “Lover’s Anthem,” but it is not enough to erase earlier foibles. It’s like having a hell of a run on fourth and ten, realizing you only got eight yards on the play.

Now, it might sound like I am being overly and unnecessarily harsh on Paper Route. Because by all accounts, Absence is still a good record. It is, however, frustrating because it could have been re-jiggered just slightly to make a borderline great record. The band certainly has a lot of personality inherent in their sound, with strong instincts in dance, rock, and atmospheric indie arenas. It’s just that when they try to pull it all together, something gets lost in the stew. Wine connoisseurs know - mix together the right grapes in the right quantities, and you can have a truly memorable blend. Mess up one arm of the equation, though, and you see how tenuous the balance can be.

Recommended if you like: Elkland, Innerpartysystem, Lydia, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Mute Math, Rock Kills Kid
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 54
03:41 PM on 07/31/09
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FullCollaspe's Avatar
I would give it a much higher score, probaly around 85% But still good review Steve
05:55 PM on 07/31/09
You Will Always Have My Attention
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cscwell107's Avatar
I would prolly give it a score in the 80s but I agree with most of your opinions.
06:32 PM on 07/31/09
I just need reassurance.
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Shakriel's Avatar
Good cd, been listening to it consistently since it was released. Good review.
07:28 PM on 07/31/09
Jeremy Aaron
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Jeremy Aaron's Avatar
Nice review, Steve. I really thought this was an excellent record, though. It might not have been a touchdown, but nearing the end of the record, there was no need to go for it on fourth down - they were already in field goal range.
11:13 PM on 07/31/09
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HometownHero's Avatar
Im not feeling the Innerpartysystem RIYL vibe at all. Fantastic record though. I would have given it at least an 80. At the least. Good review though
11:28 PM on 07/31/09
Registered User
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i would rate it an 84 myself but well written review nonetheless.
11:31 PM on 07/31/09
Blake Solomon
Leave a one-way note.
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Blake Solomon's Avatar
Nice review, Steve. I really thought this was an excellent record, though. It might not have been a touchdown, but nearing the end of the record, there was no need to go for it on fourth down - they were already in field goal range.
is this a metaphor?????

12:01 AM on 08/01/09
Then Is The New Now
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No Avatar Selected
I agree with a couple of your points, but I think overall they did an amazing job on this record especially while producing it themselves. Maybe an outside ear would've tweaked a couple things, but a great debut from a very talented band. For what its worth, their live show is stellar and the songs you have issue with come across better in person.
12:09 AM on 08/01/09
Registered User
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Cardhouse's Avatar
"And if the “so I try-try-try…” of "Tiger Teeth" got on your nerves, the overly dramatic “whoo-hoo-oooh” of “Be Healed” will have the same wet blanket effect on an otherwise poignant composition."

Spot on.
01:36 AM on 08/01/09
WeReadTheSignsCompletelyB ackwards
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InBetweenAisles's Avatar
This was a good CD. I liked it.
01:36 AM on 08/01/09
Finally here.
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-ben's Avatar
I can't believe you didn't even mention "Dance On Our Graves," the best song on the record, but hit every other one. I completely disagree about your opinion on "Wish" and "Enemy Among Us." But it is your opinion, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Have you seen this band live yet?
03:09 AM on 08/01/09
Registered User
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jtjt43's Avatar
I would've given it a slightly higher score, maybe an 80? But this was a well written and well thought out review, as always Steve.
04:19 AM on 08/01/09
Registered trademark
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Inaction's Avatar
Pretty spot on. The few little missteps make it a solid if not slightly disappointing record for me. "Gutter" is perfect though.
04:27 AM on 08/01/09
Heaven Sent
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ffadam's Avatar
I'd have gave this an 82-84 but I really do enjoy this album. The part about the pre-chorus in 'Tiger Teeth' doesn't irritate me, it makes that song for me as it gets stuck in my head.

Well written review Steve though! As always, high standard.
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