The Paper Chase deal along the blurred lines of eccentric tragic-comedy and Now You Are One Of Us is a concept record of sorts based around the classic zombie films of George A. Romero. What proceeds is a kooky rock opera that combines tongue bleeding out of cheek Nihilism and an obvious love of trash to form a record that is at times entertaining and quirky, but ultimately ends up sounding laboured and kitsch.
Synchronous to the above, one senses that The Paper Chase are probably aware of Now You Are One Of Us’s frustrating virtues and consequently this is a ‘like it or lump it’ record. To its credit, Now You Are One Of Us has array of original and spikey sounds ranging from violins and cellos that sound like meat cleavers to strangled guitars and bombastic drums that would make the likes of Shellac proud. For the connoisseurs in us, The Paper Chase also manage to sound like a variety of bands that might swing favour. I might be wrong but the first real track of the album, “We Know Where You Sleep”, particularly the rising chorus and melodic vocals/strings arrangement, has a distinct Arcade Fire flavour to it. Moving on, “The Kids Will Grow Up To Be Assholes”, is all blood soaked strangled guitars and piano stabs with topsy-turvy signature changes. If Nick Cave had been a little less intense and just a bit silly maybe this is what The Birthday Party might have sounded like. As it is, Goths and humour have never mixed that comfortably and the trashy lyrics and camp delivery quickly become far less funny on record than they might have been in theory. “Life feels long when you’re lonely, the ugly, the unclean, the unfit, will fuck the unhappy”, is a little taster. Here’s some more: “like a plain girl in a wheelchair, that still claims she fell down the stairs but if he touches you again with those grubby little hands I’ll have to break them”. Hmm. Were these lyrics found when Eminem was cleaning out his closet?
original and spikey sounds ranging from violins and cellos that sound like meat cleavers to strangled guitars and bombastic drums that would make the likes of Shellac proud
Before those Paper Chase lads say anything, yes I know their taking the piss, but equally these lyrics have little to do with a zombie film concept record that alone provides the excuse to release an album like this. Following on from the first two tracks is what Now You Are One Of Us does exactly, replicating the formula of the previous two tracks — ghostly sample, followed by clonky piano notes, Halloween strings and rising vocal section — for virtually the rest of the entire album. Now You Are One Of Us is not totally one big disaster in bad taste, but there is very little to hold your attention past the initial few songs on the album. Unfortunately, The Paper Chase lack the musical ingenuity of say a Mr Bungle and similarly lack the ironic angst filled humour of a Shellac both of which might provide the sly, wry smile that the record consistently searches for. What did however, make me laugh was the random sample of an English northerner (The Paper Chase are from Dallas) at the end of the record exclaiming in a thick accent: “you don’t wanna fuck me, you’ll catch something cruel”. I’d say similar things about this record — tongue in cheek of course.