The Paper Kites’ “Twelvefour” a Superb Sophomore Album

29 Oct

You know that 3 a.m. feeling? When you’re sitting on the sofa at your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s, talking about life as it stretches before you? Everything looks kind of gauzy. Words come slowly. You blink sleep away, as you share real feelings in a way that goes right to the heart.

Remember how precious those moments were?

Well, Sam Bentley of the Paper Kites, a five-piece indie rock band out of Melbourne, Australia, decided to revisit that place when he was writing songs for the band’s latest release, twelvefour.

Aware that many say an artist’s most creative hours are between midnight and 4 a.m., Bentley committed himself to writing songs and creating demos nightly during just those four hours. After two months of out-of-sync sleep patterns and several hundred hours of solitude, Bentley emerged with 30 demos. Those became the basis for what is a truly exceptional concept album.

Twelvefour contains ten tracks that range from gentle, acoustic folk-rock to jangly indie rock, with one song flowing seamlessly into another. As one might expect from creating at that hour, Bentley’s lyrics are often highly introspective and heartfelt. But rather than being moody and dark, the songs are refreshingly hopeful and bright.

The first track (and single) is “Electric Indigo.” All the band members immediately liked the song, and outsiders who heard it were very enthusiastic as well. The omnipresent electric guitar riffs distinguish this song from previous Paper Kites work and set high expectations for the tracks that follow.

Next is “Renegade,” an upbeat song built on an almost jazzy strummed guitar part and lightly stepping rhythm, with hypnotic storytelling vocals and echoes of electric guitar.

Track 4 is “Revelator Eyes,” a jangly and melodic tune, driven by a steady mid- to up-tempo rhythm that combines a drum machine with Josh Bentley’s (Sam’s cousin) drum kit. Sam’s smooth vocals are paired with Christina Lacy’s lush harmonies and sound like they could have been created for a Tom Cruise movie in the 1980s.

“Neon Crimson” is said to be Bentley’s favorite track. In an interview in the August 21st issue of Rolling Stone Australia, he stated that “(no) other track really captures the time of night quite as well as this one.” With its fingerpicked electric guitar and beautiful harmonized vocals by Lacy, the result is a lush landscape of sound.

The 7th track, “A Silent Cause.” is a lovely, peaceful ballad with fingerpicked acoustic guitar. The tune could easily have been created by Simon and Garfunkel for one of the legendary folk duo’s earliest albums. Its beauty stays with you long after you’ve heard it.

The final track I want to mention is the intriguingly named, “Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me.” This was one of the favorites of guitarist, Dave Powys. Wistful and melodic, the song features Dave’s crisp guitar work, twinkling synths and Bentley’s from-the-heart lyrics about love.

Some of my reviews end with the suggestion that you “may want to listen” to a particular album. But based upon all of the 8s through 10s twelvefour has earned from reviewers — and the fact that Bentley has stated that he’s never again staying up until 4 a.m. for two months —this is one album you should strongly consider getting for your collection. It really does prove how creative an artist can be between midnight and 4 a.m.

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