Black Twig – Paper Trees

Rating: ★★★½ ·

It’s clear from the recent rise in Finnish music trickling overseas that there’s quite a bit of great music being created in the country; Black Twig is another act determined to share their creativity with the world.  Paper Trees is their first proper album for the newly created Soliti Music, and while the label may be small, they’ve got some huge sounds to promote.

There’s definitely a diverse sound when you take your first trip through Paper Trees. For me, the biggest standout track was “Death Scene,” the albums fourth track.  It’s got a certain earnestness to fit as much as possible into the song, not unlike recent releases from Cloud Nothings.  Yet, you’ll find one large unifying force lurking in this song, and the album itself; the pleasant vocals help maintain a perfect sense of pop sensibility.

Going back to the beginning, you’ll realize that this seemingly effortless bit of cool was present all along.  Album opener “Four Notes” has a decently jangling guitar line, but the breathy vocals keep the song steadying in the waters of traditional pop tunes. But, just as you think the band’s settled into traditionalism, they warp up the song with squalls of feedback and noise, though not in an overbearing sense.  Such touches are present off and on throughout Paper Trees, demonstrating that Black Twig are definitely working out their sound. And in playing with such sounds, you end up with experimental tracks that seemingly come out of nowhere.

“Kouvala (Slow)” is one such track; it’s a sprawling piece of post rock stretching over seven minutes long.  Vocals on this track are practically non-existent, but the restraint the band displays in the songs construction perfectly displays their supposed intentions, leaving listeners with a taste that is more than just your average pop record.  It’s also indicative of the second-half of the record, which seems to hold a dark, nosier side of things in place. You’ll just have to listen to album closer “Antichrist” to see that the band can sufficiently produce edgier moments with chords knifing in and out of atmospheric negative space.  It will also leave you with the feeling that Robert Pollard just wrote a four minute track, as the vocal stylings and mixture of noise and traditional pop fare both lean towards the aforementioned musician’s work.

Paper Trees seemingly goes all over the place, from screeching post-rock to quieter moments of blissful pop, and yet it’s tied together so well that you’ll hardly notice the change in mood from one point to another.  Black Twig surely are a potent songwriting force; it’s clear in the way the songs are written, and the way the record plays out: you’ll find yourself jamming to this one over and over again, grateful that Finland is finally making its musical mark abroad.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/04-Death-Scene.mp3]

Download: Black Twig – Death Scene [MP3]

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