Bargain Bin Rantings — Paper Rival

There are a few things in this world that truly peeve me:

1.  People who shuffle their feet when they walk. Seriously, if you can’t perform the basic function of picking up your feet, please don’t bother me.

2.  Smokers right outside the gym. The last thing I want to inhale immediately following a run is your cigarette smoke. Have some consideration.

3.  The misuse of words such as “their,” “they’re,” and “there.”

4.  Good art, whether it be music, movies, literature, videogames, or whatever, not getting the recognition it deserves.

I’m sure that list could be a lot longer, but since this is an entertainment blog, I won’t trouble you with my overly cynical views of the world. However, I will focus on an example of number 4…

While at work a few days ago, as I was alphabetizing our clearance music section, I ran across a record I hold in high regard…Paper Rival’s “Dialog.” Defaced by a glaring, red clearance sticker, the album had been relegated to the annals of the ever-cluttered and unorganized bargain section. I stared at it for a few seconds, lamenting about the state of a music industry that’s burdened by generic radio filler and whatever Nickelback song passes for “rock” these days. The degradation of the current music scene, however, is a topic for another post. What I’m going to do in this post is something that too often fails to occur — praise a work of art that truly deserves to be appreciated.

Some background on Paper Rival: they only released two EPs and the aforementioned full-length before splitting in 2008, which is upsetting for two reasons. The first is that there will never be a follow-up to their incredible debut and the second is that I will never get to see them perform live. Regardless, their small body of work was phenomenal and deserves a listen from anyone who enjoys their brand of indie, sonic rock.

“Dialog” is a vortex of quiet, complex soft-rock infused with synthy sound-effects and moments of high-octane, adrenaline-fueled guitars. Each song on the album flows perfectly together, creating a complete tapestry of an album. Songs such as “Foreign Film Collection” and “The Family Ghost” start out subtle before exploding into energetic, angry bridges, while tracks like “Bluebird” and “Cassandra” provide light, emotional interludes to the more heavy, brooding listens. And if there is one word to describe the album it would certainly be brooding. The lyrics are pensive, dark tales of loss, pain and struggle. Even the music, filled with rattling chains and palm-muted guitars, is full of metaphors of those themes.

Dialog is indeed a dark album, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is just another go-around for the emo kids out there. The record is smart and its mood, while lyrically and musically brooding, is always bubbling with hope that things will get better. The production and arrangement of the album is also top-notch and that alone is a rarity amongst the thrown together shlock that gets put on record store shelves nowadays.

From Dialog and their two EPs, it is clear that Paper Rival cares about its craft. The attention to detail and layering, as well as the focus on the cohesiveness of their album, is something that you don’t see very often anymore, especially among the genre and scene that Paper Rival is set in. It’s a shame that the band doesn’t exist anymore, but hopefully other bands can take a listen and see how an album can and should be done.

Hopefully, you take that advice for yourself as well. Obviously, I recommend listening to the entirety of their discography, but if you’re in a hurry, here’s a few videos to whet your appetite:


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