Regarding the guitar, Mark Richardson of Pitchfork recently wrote, "the last several years have been bad ones for the instrument. In independent music circles, the guitar has become synonymous with regression, a symbol used to evoke something from the past." Richardson was writing about the most recent release by British band, My Bloody Valentine. He went on to highly praise the record and its use of "the expressive power of the processed guitar."
Pitchfork's positive stance towards MBV's new album must be reassuring to Papermaps frontman and principal songwriter Dean Marino because recent lineup changes and sonic exploration have once again shifted the band's modus operandi - this time towards a darker, more atmospheric and guitar-driven sound.
With just two releases under their belt, Papermaps have been hard to pin down. Critics have made comparisons with acts as varied as Sloan, Television, Nada Surf, the Posies and Radiohead. Their 2011 eponymous debut album (Sparks/EMI) was dominated by earnest, hook-centered powerpop, best illustrated by the single "Reunion," while their 2012 mini-album Inferior Ghost (Sparks/Universal) was a transitional piece hinting at the sonically dense and moody sound typical of their recent live shows. Tireless promotion of their two releases took its toll on the band and shortly after the release and tour for Inferior Ghost keyboardist Wendy Leung and keyboardist/guitarist Todd Harrison left the band.
Stripped down to a three piece consisting of Marino on guitar and vocals, Betty Dimo on bass and sometimes baritone guitar and Bobby Lee on drums, the band soldiered on, honoring show commitments while reinventing their sound. Gone entirely are the light piano hooks and group choruses mostly facilitated Leung and Harrison. Instead, Marino pushed his effected guitar to the fore and focused on the ideal of dynamics and sonic texture through minimalist techniques.
New material emerged around this mindset and the band retreated to their studio, Echo Valley to further develop their new sound. To aid and complement this process the band recruited Andy Soto (guitarist/synthesist from the Paris, France based post-rock shoegaze outfit, Utopium) to add even more ambient and sonic density. Soto made his first live appearance with Papermaps at their 2013 Canadian Music Week showcase where the band debuted several new songs.
From recent shows it is clear that Papermaps are moving away from their straight power pop roots towards a textured and dream-like sound, influenced by bands such as Tamaryn, Besnard Lakes and Spiritualized.
Elevator Pitch: Papermaps are a dreampop band that crank their amps past 10, love their FX pedals and play in drop D.