Indie-alt rock band Paper Tigers unleashes a batch of piercing anthems sonically and thematically fit for the masses on their latest EP.
I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Sooner marks the fourth EP from Paper Tigers — one of the most fiery and thrilling alt-rock outfits to set up shop in Boston. Their origins span beyond the confines of New England, as the band assembled from destinations ranging from Washington, D.C. to Iceland. Each member holds immense weight in the fabric of a Paper Tigers track: drummer Ben “Cutty” Cuthbert and bassist Matthew Hughes are the thumping heartbeat, guitarist Bjarki Guðmundsson is the shredding chordal backbone, and lead vocalist Michael Medlock is the commanding conscience. Together, the collective employs a broad swath of rock tendencies and pushes boundaries with anthemic and extravagant soundscapes that could fill a stadium.
The opening track, “This Means War,” exudes arena rock from the title alone. While the track’s introduction teases a mellow rock cut, the band wastes no time crescendoing into abrasive guitar shreds and drum fills. Medlock mirrors this progression with his vocals, transitioning from a measured exposition that sits in the middle of his register, to a rousing rally that demands to be pushed into his upper register: “This means war, what are we fighting for? You said it’s oh so nice, the status quo.” The atmosphere of this opener mimics that of a performance at the edge of a cliff, calling out into the void and awaiting a resounding response.
The anthemic qualities of I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Sooner manifest not only in the ambitious, full instrumentation, but also in the bold choruses evident across the EP. For instance, the second track “Long Live The King” features verses intended to stoke an overthrow of their ruler: “Well what do you know? It’s that time of the year, when we face unafraid the final frontier.” The chorus exercises cautious triumph by echoing the sentiments of the verses, proclaiming with clarity: “The king is dead once again, so long live the king. He’s angry at everyone and everything. He hung us out to dry, with no hope for escape. I don’t know if I should be glad, or I should be afraid.” The songwriting chops of Paper Tigers are most effectively illustrated by their ability to synthesize verses into straightforward, yet catchy and compelling choruses.
The final track of the EP, “Tonight,” unveils a more vulnerable, stripped-down side of the band as lush strings mesh with soft guitar chords and a mellow vocal delivery. The production accompanies themes of closure and making it to the other side, captured by lyrics such as, “Restless soul, will you never be satisfied until you are set free tonight.” The instrumentation blossoms into an epic climax, amplified by a blaring guitar solo and vocals that declare, “It takes a village just to raise a child and teach them well.” Unflinching in their approach to the cutting-edge alt-rock music of I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Sooner, Paper Tigers exhibits thematic and instrumental appeal with an added potential to someday rally a rowdy TD Garden.