REVIEW: Paradise Fears – Yours Truly

paradise-fears

Artist: Paradise Fears
Album: Yours Truly
Genre: Pop Rock

Yours Truly can really be summed up in one word: cute. It’s cute, and kitschy, and rather sickening in its sweetness. It’s a nice little album of poppy sunshine, most enjoyable to listen to, and a welcome break from the dreariness of emo melodrama or hardcore throwdowns. But really, that’s kind of it. It doesn’t provoke gushing at its airy delights, but neither does it inspire ranting at its more vacuous tendencies. I can listen and critique it but without investing any actual response – just measured reactions, which is a tad odd considering.

But anyway, I digress – the fascinating thing about most of this album is how deftly the band have managed to incorporate a shy air of adorableness in every track. It’s evident from the off, with “More Than Lust’s” poppy vibes and delicate vocals set to a subtle string section that tears ever so humbly at your heartstrings. The chorus has an insistent guitar harmony that pours over into the second verse, making it all sound rather lovely and much nicer than the shallow lyrics would suggest. Violet is much the same, taking the aforementioned guitar harmonies to new heights and adding a chuckling bell to it. It’s so far, so mundane until the chorus brings in an echoing chant in the background, which combines beautifully with the profuse instrumentation to create something delightfully summery and strangely wonderful. A brief sprinkling of piano intensifies this feeling, for all that it might be a natural or even predictable addition, as the air feels positively pregnant with rich emotion. Impressive, if perhaps a little artificial.

Indeed, much of this intensive mix and match of samples and instruments pads out what is essentially a straightforward, simplistic pop album. “Last Breath” illustrates this quite well, as a synth effect, more refined bass line and piano all add an edge and sense of occasion to the otherwise entirely too familiar subject matter. There’s a final flourish and it’s all very enjoyably grandiose. However, this technique can backfire as much as it can endow, as evidenced by Here To Stay. Its opening riff bizarrely traces shades of Bon Jovi’s “Always “(forgive my blasphemy) and the combination of adamant guitar, floating vocals, and heavy drumming drenches everything in lots of searing feeling. These are joined later by some surging string samples and backing vocals which seem intended to be heartfelt and poignant but all in all, just sound cheesy and over the top. There’s almost too much in this, as in its attempts to be majestic it seemed to lose the point.

That said, there are plenty of more traditional poptastic numbers to be savoured throughout. Midway through the album, the band seem to take a breather and roll out a veritable recipe book of straightforward rocked-up tunes. “Waste of Time” is a nice, playful number, its sharper guitar instantly setting a more irreverent tone. The conventionalised structure keeps it in check though the layering of vocals gives it a little more flair. “Just A Feeling” is almost minimalist by comparison with the openers but a faintly melancholic and engaging affair nonetheless. “Advice” offers a ready baked love token with its catchy rhythm and upbeat hues, while “Get To You” balances precariously on the edge of ten-a-penny and relatively pleasing.

However, the band leave the best track on the album til last – “Yours Truly” is a gorgeous, involving song that somehow manages not to sound anything like the rest of the album and triumphs exquisitely in doing so. It’s a piano-driven number, surely designed to sound like it’s been stolen from a pining teen movie soundtrack, but the lyrics are actually quite touching and manage to lift it a step above the obvious. Some percussion and light guitar join the keys and become more prevalent as the song escalates, before it climaxes in a delightful guitar solo that balances delicately over the string samples to make for a polished, pristine conclusion. It is perhaps a bizarre inclusion, considering the various different routes tried and tested en route, but it’s one genuine shining delight in an album that tends to stray dangerously close to sentiment by numbers.

Yours Truly is a sprightly experience, one that certainly makes a valiant effort to take your breath away. It could be just me that didn’t quite react in any definitive way, as there is plenty of promise and some very enjoyable tunes here, particularly the title one. I just can’t figure out whether it’s sincere and lovable, or slightly turgid. Either way, probably best to take it at face value and play on. Give it a spin for cheeriness alone.

Score: 7/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Emily

    Loved this album!