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The Paperbacks: Lit From Within

Twenty years ago, Winnipeg’s The Paperbacks would’ve been releasing new 7-inch singles every six months or go, to be filed alongside the Tsunami and Small Factory records next to the cash register at some local indie-friendly shop. Instead, the band’s third album, Lit From Within, is a double-disc, 32-song affair, with frontman Doug McLean crooning one buzzy guitar-pop song after another in a style reminiscent of a shaggier Death Cab For Cutie or Fountains Of Wayne. And frankly, The Paperbacks’ sound doesn’t suit the bloat. McLean is skilled at turning earnest character sketches like “The Asheville Period (In Retrospect)” and “Caroline” into solidly constructed, melodically strong rock ’n’ roll, but the appeal of this approach back in indie’s mid-’90s heyday was that it was as modest in ambition as it was in content. The records that came out then were like pages from a diary, torn out and left scattered in the street. Lit From Within gathers those pages and assembles them in a thick, unwieldy book. There’s about 40 minutes of charming music here, packaged in such a way that it’s often more of a chore than a delight.


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