After the release of two successful EPs, Woodland in 2011 and Young North in 2012, Australian indie-folk band The Paper Kites have finally released their first full-length album, States, on August 30. Having been an avid fan of the band since the release of Woodland, I had eagerly awaited and set high hopes for their first LP, and it's safe to say that they definitely did not disappoint. The band's dream-like vocals and layered instrumentals ventured into a realm of music that their previous EPs had only slightly dabbled with.
Similar to their other albums, States still retains the group's overall indie-folk feel, with soft vocals and instrumentals that make you feel as though you're strolling through an English countryside - or Australian, in this case. After listening to the first few songs off of the album, however, it is apparent that the band was trying to experiment more with its music by adding in new and eclectic instruments and sounds, as seen in “A Lesson From Mr. Gray,” “Cold Kind Hand,” and “In Reverie.”
The album opens up with the track “Malleable Beings,” one of the longer tracks on the album, clocking in at over five minutes. This track is a dangerous one; after nearly 30 seconds of listening, it completely swallows you whole with its perfectly smooth harmonies and dream-like instrumentals and puts you in a trance, leaving you wanting more.
“Young” was the next song on the album that caught my attention. It is a bit more upbeat than the previous four tracks, with soft acoustics and a catchy beat that weaves its way in and out throughout the song. It leaves you feeling as though you've just floated on a cloud of magical fairy wonder. Seriously.
The next track, “A Lesson From Mr. Gray” is definitely one of my favorites off of the album. It's exponentially different from any other track that they've ever done before, and it was definitely a bold and daring step, but they were able to come through and pull it off. It steps out of the realm of indie-folk and dives into a bluesy-rock field with a distinctive bassline and echoey vocals. And with a reference to Oscar Wilde in the title, how could the song not be anything less than extraordinary?
Both songs “Tin Lover” and “Tenenbaum” are two of the most pure, relaxing songs on the album and by far two of the most beautiful. They're both so simple and raw yet still so captivating. Definitely listen to these if you're in the mood to daydream and meander through an open field and ponder the questions of life.
With any album, there are some songs that just captivate you from the first few seconds; for States, it was undoubtedly the magnificently written and beautifully composed “Never Heard a Sound.” The track features a rad harmonica solo and painfully perfect harmonies. Unfortunately, it's a shame that this is the shortest track off of the album, only being about three minutes long. It is a bit reminiscent of the equally incredible track “Bloom” off of their Woodland EP with its fragile vocals and orchestrations.
States closes with its longest track, “I Done You So Wrong,” one in which almost brings us back to reality after being placed in a dream-like trance from the rest of the album. The song itself is like one, seven-minute-and-six-second musical journey, incorporating numerous instruments and of course, their ever-present harmonies.
The Paper Kites are definitely going places, or flying, rather. Catch them on tour in the United States starting Wednesday Oct. 2.