When an American pop band sally’s-forth having lost a founding member, dropped a label and overcome great adversity (cancer, death, divorce and “financial mysteries”), you want to root for them. You want their “go for broke,” epic effort to be their mightiest work thus far, to push the group off the “Band to Watch” list and onto any day now, man.
Unfortunately, Paper Route’s The Peace of Wild Things is mightily hit-and-miss. The album starts off with the powerful punch of “Love Letters,” a song where their cited influence of Tears for Fears reads loud and clear. The driving double-kick, the reverb echoing into outer space–it’s all delicious, and very promising. While the early moments of the following track “Two Hearts,” hint at a continued 80’s-tinged excellence, the vocals begin, and the tune takes an immediate dive into depressingly ordinary territory. Trace elements of Shiny Toy Guns are outweighed by a mid-aughts “rock” sound–i.e. the very worst of Panic! at the Disco, like, from back when they had that exclamation point as part of their name.
Yet a few blah songs later, they slingshot back to awesome with “You and I,” a satisfying blend of M83-style big synths and hooky romantic lyrics–the perfect choice for a single. Also intriguingly good is “Tamed,” a bare little ballad in collaboration with the sugar-voiced Cacie Dalager, lead singer from Now, Now.
Altogether, The Peace of Wild Things’ reach exceeds its grasp, forcing us to again, “keep tabs” on Paper Route, until they reach the next stage of their evolution.