It can be difficult to keep subtlety interesting. On Fading Parade, Papercuts (a.k.a. Jason Robert Quever) hasn’t changed too much, sticking with the fuzzed, hazy, ’60s dream-pop that’s the musical equivalent of a shoebox filled with old Polaroids. The problem is, in the five years or so that this washed-out sound has seen a resurgence, other bands have done a lot more with it: It’s hard to listen to the mellow-yet-intense complexity of Beach House and go back to Papercuts’ level of tranquility. Still, Quever has cultivated a sophisticated collection here, driven by simple riffs, sleepy melodies, and soft vocals. The album is also lyrically thoughtful, touching on romance, youth, pain, and angst in articulate, mature ways. His instrumental mastery is impressive (employing, among other things, Moogs, autoharp, Mellotron, piano, and Echoplex), and his songcraft shines on tracks such as “The Messenger,” which slowly shifts into a striking progression of lurching, atmospheric acoustics. Even so, Fading Parade is mostly devoid of drama. That’s likely by design, and it doesn’t completely deprive the record of enjoyable parts—it just makes the album a less exciting listen than its peers.
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