Listening to PaperRiver‘s “Yes I’m so happy” stuck in my head immediately. Not just the very soothing acoustic instrumentals, but also the lyrics. It’s a bittersweet and kind of sarcastic song and that got me interested in the full length album, where, there was.
where, there was is an intersection of indie pop and folk acoustic music. Surprisingly, where, there was is sung in English. That kind of surprised me. The four-piece features two guitarists, keyboards, and a trumpet. It’s a strange mix, especially adding brass to this laid-back type of music. PaperRiver uses the trumpet effectively to add an additional warmer melody around the guitars or add accents to songs.
The difficulty with the genres that PaperRiver explore is that the music can get repetitive. But PaperRiver successfully creates unique but similar tracks. The only issue is that listening through the 11 songs, you might not know which track you’re hearing unless it’s a favorite song. Overall, where, there was is a very mellow listen so you might prefer to listen to specific songs instead of a start-to-finish playthrough.
There are four title tracks on the album and I think they might be the strongest songs. “Circle” follows “Yes I’m so happy” and offers a counterpoint that feels a little brighter while still having that sarcastic tone in the lyrics. “Home” the next title song and comes right after “Circle.” PaperRiver’s composition has a very specific signature. The tempos are either an easy walking pace or slightly slower so each verse is allowed the maximum amount of time to linger. The trumpet really helps lengthen each beat.
PaperRiver’s use of four melodic instruments is smart. Even without straight percussion on songs, each instrument plays a part to provide some level of percussion either through the guitar strumming or picking, the keyboards building a background layer, or the trumpet setting a counter-rhythm to the song.
I really liked listening to PaperRiver’s album, it’s warm on the surface, but the lyrics give it a different angle. The four-piece harnesses their instruments well and creates well-composed tracks. The vocals connect everything together and act like the fifth piece to each track. It was unexpected, but PaperRiver make a great impact with their music.