Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paper Dolls - Sparks (2011)

Paper Dolls are:
Jenn Malzone - songwriter, keyboards
Cathie Degler - cello
Brad Vaughn - bass
Sarah Ross - drums

Sarah and Cathie saw the original line-up of the band disband just as they were finishing their first album.  So they reformed in this configuration and got to work. The result of that labor is Sparks, which is a mix of the original line-up's darker material (gothic) and the pop sensibility of the current band.   The mixture of chamber and goth makes theirs a sound I haven't heard in a band from St. Louis before, and their interesting arrangements make them stand out.

"Middle Class Fashion" has a simple and undeniable little piano riff that runs throughout the song, while Cathie's cello and Brad's bass spar back and forth at the bottom end. The clipped nature of Jenn's vocals play along with the piano. Some small bursts of layered vocals are thrown in here and there, and the way that all of these elements figure into the arrangement is a nice change from the norm.

"First Draft" features more jazz influences as well as flourishes of weepy cello that make for an opulent vibe. I really like the staccato nature of Jenn's vocals and the piano that plays off that. That may be the bands signature sound, and what an enjoyable one to hear.

The unconventional song structures help Paper Dolls carve a unique sound. There is quite a bit of growth as a band from their first band line-up and this current line-up.  Sparks is the type of release that will have a significant influence on budding songstresses in an already burgeoning St. Louis music scene.

Download Sparks for $5 at their thesixtyone page. They have cd's available at their upcoming shows March 11 at Wash U, and March 26 at Lemmons w/ Blood Pony. I will be doing a review of the Blood Pony album as well, so that would be a great show to see.


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