FUN FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS by Paper Days
Genre: Indie Rock
Favorite Tracks: “Kind Guidance,” “Fun for Family & Friends”
Apparently only previously known from their presence at the Mac DeMarco show wherein he was arrested, Carlsbad natives Paper Days are part of the modern swash of indie that’s flailing blindly for a clear identifier, knocking influences off the shelf willy-nilly in the process. There’s really nothing unique presented over the course of FUN FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS; Real Estate and ANTIDOTES-era Foals are the most notable reference points, although dashes of Future Islands and Young the Giant can be heard as well. Unfortunately, none of these predecessors are particularly differentiated to begin with, so a combination of them only further muddles any chance of artistic idiosyncrasy. Paper Days are a perfectly pleasant band playing perfectly pleasant music, but music this easily digestible isn’t likely to stick around for the long-term.
To their credit, opener “Kind Guidance” is about as good as this brand of festival indie gets. Caught off guard and expecting something much more stoned from the band’s self-described “dream rock,” the listener will initially be drawn in by the nearly post-punk affectation of singer Niko Sitaras (occasionally breaking into falsetto) and guitar work that morphs and shifts regularly, its pensive pickings juxtaposing nicely with a certain sense of urgency in the rhythm section. However, this is about as good as things manage to get, and the pipe is already laid for the middling nature of the music to follow. The issue to take the most umbrage with over the course of FUN FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS is the percussion work; the drum patterns indulge in basic, obvious syncopation and slowed-down versions of the appropriated white boy “funk” of Two Door Cinema Club and the aforementioned Foals, as is first introduced on “Sweet Destiny.” As is the fashion, the bass playing is almost entirely undermixed, except for a brief moment of clarity on lowpoint “Lightning Cola.”
If there’s anything to stick around for, it’s the guitar work. The guitars occasionally build toward moments of fuzzed-out tension (“Sweet Destiny,” “Fun for Family & Friends”), and the opening sprawling lick of “Flutter” hints at a far more interesting incarnation of the band that could have been teased out. In addition, there are moments scattered throughout that briefly grab the attention, such as the nearly tropical nature of “Boy,” the Alex G-indebted atmospheric intro on “Where Animals Dance,” and the noisy guitar freakout of the titular “Fun for Family & Friends.” However, it’s never very long before the basely repetitive drumming poisons the well, and the decision to often have the melodies drop out in order to focus on the very same are fundamentally frustrating.
Rounded out with the entirely unnecessary “…,” FUN FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS breezes by without scattering a seed to plant. The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of the music festival you went to in 2012 with your summer girlfriend. But it’s 2016 now and you probably haven’t spoken to her in upwards of three years. Time to move on.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend