UK duo Paper Aeroplanes has been quietly resuming their amazing band Paper Aeroplanes over the last year or so and as a new follower, “Joy” is the first album I’ve been onboard for and I’m delighted to say it’s an effortless piece of pop rock that deserves all the attention it can get.
As the duo have slid more towards a pop rock edge and incorporated more sounds into their mix, it’s opened the door for an album of rousing anthems and “Good Love Lives On” kicks this off with an uplifting guitar and fuzzy keyboard driven track. Sarah’s voice has one of those dream like tones that can flip octave, tone, power and range without it even feeling like she’s trying and the music sits beautifully around it. Single “Guessing Game” plays to Sarah’s strength but placing piano chords and some excellent percussive elements around her to make each sound impact dramatically. The production here is top shelf and the instrumentation gives the folk edges a sparkling side. Moreover the single is extremely catchy and the closing section is a dream. “Books” is more pop with its happy chords, bright keyboards and snappy drums. Unlike the previous tracks there’s little reverb here and so the crispness makes everything punchier and more of a party. After the party comes the beautiful “Race You Home” which has a folksy acoustic guitar riff that leads the way and all the other instruments fall behind it to allow the interplay between voice and guitar sit perfectly in centre.
“Emily” pushes back to Paper Aeroplanes’ more familiar territory. Their dreamy folk roots shine here with lots of minor chords and smooth production of drums, guitars and a smattering of keyboard sounds. It’s a great window into their previous efforts and so if you even vaguely enjoy this you should be snapping up their previous albums too. “Caravan” continues the more folksy mystical element of the album with a piano laden track where plenty of vocal overdubs really enhance the sweet main melody into something that is bigger than the sound it creates. Throughout the album, the lyrics are great and there’s a theme about ships, journeys and homelands. It runs perfectly here and also into the heartbreaking “Sail” as the token pure ballad. The high octave of the electric guitar and pitch of the vocals make it a heartbreaking. I love the line “Every single line upon your face – I could crawl into and hibernate for days”. The added harp and strings make it a complete showcase of the duo.
“Joy” returns to the bouncier side of the album with a vowel spitting backing vocal track and punchy drum track. It’s like a pop hoe down in many ways as it feels like a happy barn dance going to a disco pop. “Call Off The Dawn” is a luscious blur of acoustic instruments creating a jangling mix of chords and building to an uplifting folk anthem. It starts off slowly but becomes like a crowd of Paper Aeroplanes clapping, playing, singing and chanting. Understated brilliance. “Placebos” is a synth, drum and vocal track that slowly throbs its way into your heart. It’s a great track and an appropriate closer unless you managed to get the “Goldrush (Lodge Mix)” track with your edition. This is a piano led sad ballad that’s been given a minimal percussive and synth make up and created an atmospheric jazz club track that reminds me of a brooding sedate Bjork’s “Play Dead” with its string section in the middle.
“Joy” is a joy to listen to from start to end. Confident, assured, catchy but full of depth, Paper Aeroplanes have absolutely nailed it on their latest release. If there’s any justice in the world, this Welsh duo will be propelled into a much bigger status than they currently are given because they deserve every new listener they get. Phenomenal record.