The list of artists Irvine’s Faded Paper Figures cite as influences reads like a musical fantasy team drafted from my iPod: Morrissey, Trash Can Sinatras, Tahiti 80, Wilco, LCD Soundsystem. Given that, the trio’s actual music would either be right up my alley—or a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull-esque bitter disappointment.
I saw them live back in January at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa and was pleased by their downtempo electro pop (no fridge-nuking letdowns to speak of), and then sought out a copy of their debut full-length—last July’s Dynamo. After a bit of a dormant period, they have four Southern California shows scheduled this month and are working on another album, which they say might be ready by late summer.
But there’s plenty to admire about Dynamo while it’s still current. It’s full of gems for those who enjoy chilled-out electronic music along the lines of Zero 7 or the Postal Service (as opposed to dance-your-ass-off electronic music), such as the slightly retro “The Persuaded” or the bustling “Metropolis” (sorry, impossible to resist).
Faded Paper Figures include full lyrics of the album on their website, along with embedded links that serve as annotations. While many serve solely educational purposes—informing that “Poverty Row,” mentioned in “B Film,” is a reference to specific old-timey Hollywood slang and not just a turn-of-phrase—some provide insight into their inspiration. The word “wallpaper” in “Logos” links to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s feminist-classic short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (you probably had to read it in high school). Depending on your perspective, this info might ruin the mystique, but it gives a real sense that this band construct their lyrics thoughtfully, instead of just stringing together something that sounds cool.