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(Paper City/Moedog Music)
Long Beach's Paper City aren't subtle about the kind of music they like and like to make, and as such that makes their latest release Popular Talk remarkably easy to discuss.
If the prospect of starting an album with a jaunty acoustic arrangement with added piano and glockenspiel featuring someone sweetly singing about dancing to “Motown Grooves” (thus the name of the song) is manna from indie-pop heaven, that's all you'll need to know.
Alternately, if that makes it sound like you're trapped in a Wes Anderson-directed and McSweeney's-discussed hell, that's also all you'll need to know. Never let it be said we can't cover all bases.
Either way, it's always quietly remarkable to realize how this kind of gentle, understated genre has thrived just as much as everything else over the years, with patron saints like the Marine Girls and St. Etienne and the Field Mice still looming large in the same way that metal will always derive something from Black Sabbath at some point.
Paper City's singer and main musician Marisa Predisik has both the voice and ear for familiar, effective hooks and sentiments to make it all work. More than once songs like “Drifting Away On the Sea” feel like the neo-vaudeville singalong they aim to be, a kind of never-never land.
When the trio goes big, in its own fashion, Popular Talk might actually be at its strongest; the steady verse and rising chorus for “Holiday” and “Carbon Dream” are winners, if a touch similar in impact.
“Then You Arrive,” one of the more conventionally rock numbers (just), in its slow burn motion and spotlight vocal turn, could be an early '60s ballad redone, something from a lighter Twin Peaks club sequence or just in fact what it is, a sharp and winning performance that's probably the album's standout in the end.
The band's currently out on the road, but you can keep up with them a bit via www.reverbnation.com/papercityband.