Hey its country emo! For all those trailer-trash dwelling preteen girls that want to cry without having the parents having them listen to Travis Tritt and Brooks & Dunn. John’s vocals have all the twang of a John Nolan (formerly Taking Back Sunday) and Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria) and the twinkling piano lines are reminiscent of a Brand New. However, and why a musically acceptable label like Kill Rock Starts signed these kiddos, are due to the disharmonies of a track like “Said the Spider To The Fly”, where the off-notes try to pull the track apart, a fact that shows exactly how adept John is on forging a distinct song. The emo/whatever mix continues into the second track on “God Bless”, with a Deftones-like guitar and NIN-level presence of electronic and created drumlines.
Much more sedate than the previous two tracks is “What I’d Be Without Me”, a musically more intricate track that deftly places piano, shrill guitar, and John’s melodramatic vocals in a way to make a musically compelling track. John’s guitar solos can be found strewn throughout the disc, and yet are never too drawn out or too cliché, two faults that can hamstring an otherwise-perfect band from striving for perfection. The plodding nature that is “The Sinking Ship The Grand Applause” is the first chink in The Paper Chase’s armor, where John’s vocals and the backing instrumentals are at two different places, and virtually nothing is done to bridge the two, creating a fairly stilted track. As the disc spins along, during tracks like “Your Ankles to Your Earlobes” continue the very “Antichrist Superstar”-era of ambiance that The Paper Chase find themselves including more often than not on “God Bless”.
While “Let’s Be Bad, Henry…” starts out slowly, continuing that same Manson-esque vibe that is present on a majority of the disc, a double-part harmony is paired alongside the aforementioned synth line to make a track that is at least as catchy as “Cute Without the E” or “Hand Grenade”. The Paper Chase innovates in the sense that they incorporate so many stale musical genres, many of which can still be heard ad nauseam on popular radio, and mixing them all together in the creation of something that is beyond new – it is visionary. “God Bless” is an album that will burrow its way into the heart of anyone, regardless of musical tastes – these kids are The Mekons of the present day in their seamless meshing of different genres.
Top Tracks: Abby, You’re Going To Burn For What You’ve Done To Me, Said The Spider To The Fly
The Paper Chase – God Bless Your Black Heart / 2004 Kill Rock Stars / 14 Tracks / http://www.thepaperchaseband.com / http://www.killrockstars.com / Reviewed 22 September 2004