Album Review: Papermaps, Inferior Ghost
Papermaps, Inferior Ghost — Sparks Music (2012)
On August 28th, Toronto's own Papermaps will hit the Horseshoe to release their new EP, Inferior Ghost. Papermaps' first (self-titled) record was released in 2011 and packed with huge-sounding tunes like "Reunion," which combined the polish of big-money radio rock and the earnestness of your best friend's indie band.
What was most remarkable about that album was the precision with which it had been put together — producer/songwriter/frontman Dean Marino took painstaking care to make sure every note was in the right place, and it showed.
With their new EP, Papermaps bring that same precision to a harder, more focused — and, of course, shorter — set of songs. Inferior Ghost's first single, "There Are Wolves" opens strongly with a crescendo that leads to a hook that's as gripping as anything you'll hear this month. The track features super-tight multitracked vocals and a meandering synth riff that beefs up the already-huge chorus that the song finally ends on, but the group's skillful use of dynamics keeps the audience guessing, neatly turning the rock-radio sound they've adopted here on its head.
Later on the record, "Nobody Gets It" may have the coolest intro I've heard yet from Papermaps — spacey, reversed arpeggios and programmed hand claps lead into washes of guitar and the supremely frustrated chorus of "Nobody's perfect, baby; nobody ever fits." Marino's intense work ethic shows through all the impeccable production, with lots of things you don't necessarily expect from Papermaps, like 8-bit synths and that sort of programmed-sounding percussion.
For me, though, "Reaction Formation" is the standout track on the record. From the tight keyboard stabs to the massive chorus, this crowd-pleaser is destined for much use onstage, I'm sure.
I first heard songs from this EP when I saw Papermaps at CMW earlier this year, and was impressed with how well the material mixed with songs from their debut. Looking over my notes from that night, I typed "FIND THIS SONG'S NAME" in all caps beside a brief sketch of the lyrics and structure of "Reaction Formation."
Inferior Ghost is a strong, focused album, with songs like "Break" standing as welcome changes of pace and a reminder of the versatility of this group. I would love to have heard something more like the stumbling, call-and-response panic of "You Are My Gallows" from their last record, but this EP is still notable in its own way: the polished, driving pop and the subtle touches imparted by a good producer really make this record shine.
The Inferior Ghost EP is already available digitally on iTunes, but CDs will be available on August 28th. Those in attendance at their album-release party — also on the 28th — will be able to purchase a limited vinyl edition held to 300 copies.