Faded Paper Figures – Relics review

FPF-2014-12My first thought when listening to opening track, Breathing, was CHVCHES with Chris Martin’s voice – you can imagine how that’d sound, right? Pretty great. I’ll admit, the instrumental on the verses occasionally sounded like background music on a Sims game I had as a child, but when the chorus kicks in, the talent is showcased. Whether it’s intentional or not, I think it’s rather clever (considering the title) that the music seems to pump like a heartbeat, working with the vocals. Second track, Wake Up Dead, opens with a guitar that would sound right in place in a scene from Bonnie and Clyde (albeit a little slow), before bringing in the vocals asking rather big questions; “how many times will you wake up dead?” This song feels a lot more stripped back, and the combination of John and Heather’s vocals adds something more than you usually hear in this style of music.

If you imagine R.E.M.’s It’s The End Of The World (As We Know It), as electro-pop, kit would be the third track off this record – conveniently titled Not The End Of The World. From the marginal drum intro through the almost-rap to the words which directly oppose those in the R.E.M. track. It’s too similar to have been coincidental. Lost Stars features a longer intro and has a more solemn tone; the longing filled “I wanted to run with you” fits sublimely into the synthesised sound, before the track takes a turn for the louder, where the soft vocals are highlighted and give way to instrumental. This structure of development through the song underlines the trio’s ability to form a track with high sophistication that holds excitement in every aspect.

If I’m honest, fifth track Fellaheen doesn’t do much for me – the band pick up my attention again with On The Line, though. Again, they demonstrate the easy in which they can switch between having the focus on the vocals and the instrumental, and the layered vocals add to the surreal, liquid sound created. Spare Me is mostly lead by Heather’s vocals, which makes a change and saves the record from the monotony that having only one vocalist often brings about, before Who Will Save Us Now brings back John’s sound to open the track. Although many of the tracks could, this one in particular feels as though it would be in place on a movie soundtrack; that not only speaks of the sound created, but the quality and maturity of it which is something which strike me throughout the record.

Ninth track Horizons Fall shows that the music doesn’t need to be lyrically complex to be excellent; the one line “all our horizons fall in the long run” combined with an ever changing musical backdrop creates something which is continuously moving yet remains uncomplicated. I think I’m just spotting coincidences by this point, but I can’t help but notice the similarity between the opening of Real Lies and Armin Van Buuren’s This Is What It Feels Like. Either way, this track is indisputably more down the route to dance music, and I’m pretty sure I hear them slip in the cliché “real eyes realise real lies”. Penultimate track, What You See, features the radio-broadcasting style break that many alternative rock bands use to add a flavour to their music, and whilst it works for them, I feel the track would have been better without it – it seems to deduct from the fluidity of the music. Forked Pathst, closing track of the record, brings back the depth beyond music to the album, with lines such as “why is now the only thing we’ll ever really know?”This reinforces that this isn’t a debut record trying to brag about style and play it safe, this an exciting, perpetually changing and sophisticated album that tackles almost existential question through the accessible medium of electro-pop music.

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