Wed 4 Nov 2009
The Brunettes- Paper Dolls
There’s always an air of innocence and a dash of danger with The Brunettes, and the play off between Heather and Jonathan remains a powerful, playful force on Paper Dolls. The album’s biggest point of difference is its modern bent. Instantly more avant-guarde and experimental than previous more straight forward twee pop efforts, the band’s seventh release grabs effortlessly with opener ‘In Colours’. Its climbing bassline and sunny melodies seep into single ‘Red Rollerskates’ with ease, in which there’s a pitter patter rhythm that pans subtley while Heather hula hoops her vocals through the jumping beats and sugar rinse of guitar. Blippy electronica is experimented with in ‘The Crime Machine’, with almost-disco syncopation and keyboard stabs. Less plush orchestra and more machine-manufactured fun, the organic quality is retained in the crunchy guitar and bass sounds, and this new dynamic continues to push The Brunettes’ boundaries. ‘Bedroom Disco’ is an out-of-kilter electronic masterpiece incorporating Kraftwerk precision. The lack of previous orchestration is made up for in the almost overkill on the heart string-tugging title track. Jonathan’s voice gets dangerously low next to Heather’s sweet coo and the electronic drums are thumping and heavy. There’s a similarly dragging air in ‘If I’. ‘Connection’ brings back the classy, clever basslines that are such a draw-card for their illustrious pop and the curious tone that’s so familiar in their other work. ‘It’s Only Natural’ even has steel drums in the intro! ‘Magic (No Bunny)’ sounds like its name suggests, with bouncing rhythms and atmospheric percussion underscoring the best inter-playing vocals. Heather and Jonathan’s voices then fall into unison on the cute end note ‘Thank You’, which brings the conclusion up quicker than expected (the LP rests at just under 35 minutes). Paper Dolls is a step away from typical Brunettes fare that’s often oriented toward more cute and coy pop, and is instead more about experimenting with modern technology and ideas. It’s great to hear, as it sounds like they’re stepping out of their comfort zone and having fun while they’re at it.