L.A.’s Letting Up Despite Great Faults spent a great deal of effort on their self-titled debut album reminding listeners that it’s possible to translate the moody highs and lows of New Order and The Radio Dept. into something fresh and immediate (see “In Steps” and “Our Younger Noise” in particular). Two years later and the band returns with Paper Crush, an ambitious and energetic EP filled with even more urgency, hooks and that sweet spot where twee-pop meets the soaring textures of the Creation Records catalog. That’s not easy company to be aligned with, but if there was ever a band to spearhead the recent renaissance of dream-pop fever then this is the act to get invested in. Don’t get me wrong, LUDGF don’t attempt to bring about any revolution or rekindle a bygone era of music. Paper Crush is a sound owned by its creators.
Mike Lee’s vocal delivery possesses a youthful, carefree tone that eases its way into the songs. He’s not too direct, not too hushed, and fits perfectly with textured keys and sustained guitars. Lee is also bolder and at the forefront of these mixes than on previous releases. This creates an added feel of spaciousness that’s instantly recognizable from the band’s debut album — allowing heavier guitar progressions, propelling electronic rhythms and candy-coated synths to take shape right in front of you. It’s not a maturity issue we’re dealing with here; it’s simply a vocalist and his band getting better.
Every track on this release is solid — including a few potential singles — all ripe for remixes and club treatments. Beginning with the jagged four-chord progression and gradual bloom of bright synth melodies, lead off track “Repeating Hearts” sounds robust and exhilarating. “Teenage Tide” is led by a slinky bass line that cruises at a high altitude alongside Lee’s determined vocals, “My teenage war makes me feel alive but tears us in two.” There’s also a static charge of aggressive noise-pop on “I Feel You Happen”, which, now that I think about it, is a much cooler way of asking someone out on a date.
In my experience, an EP is usually designed for experimentation and/or reserves room for tracks that may not be album-ready. Paper Crush builds a bridge. It’s a confident sonic gateway that points to where the band is headed. But more importantly, it reveals a streamlined version of Letting Up Despite Great Faults, who are obviously capable of creating one hell of a sophomore album. words/ s mcdonald
MP3: Letting Up Despite Great Faults :: Teenage Tide