In 2017 I hit an unexpected run where every piece of great new music that I heard came from Australia. I was surprised by how diverse and talented the current Australian music scene is. Holy Holy, Tash Sultana, Courtney Barnett, and Jen Cloher, are just a few of the Australian musicians and bands that I love listening to. Another Aussie group, The Paper Kites, are one of the best folk rock bands going right now.
I discovered The Paper Kites through their 2015 album twelvefour. I included the band on a post for The Recovering Perfectionist. The piece detailed the music that I listen to when I am trying to relax. Their sound is a wonderful way to unwind and reflect.
The best attribute of The Paper Kites is that they make delicate sounds exciting. That is not easy to do. There is a fine line between listless acoustic songs and captivating folk music. They achieve this through entrancing vocals that command attention throughout every song, especially on their full-length studio albums.
Who Are The Paper Kites?
The Paper Kites are an indie folk-rock band from Melbourne, Australia. Singers Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy started the five-piece group in 2010. Their sound is typically centered around Bentley and Lacy’s voices rather than the music itself. The Paper Kites have a great collective melody, whether it would be on wistful songs like “Bleed Confusion” or guitar-based songs such as “A Lesson From Mr. Gray.”
The Paper Kites have produced a good amount of work since their formation. They released two EPs, Woodland and Young North in 2011 and 2012. In 2013 the band put out their first record, States. Two years later they released their penultimate LP, twelvefour. Unfortunately, I did not find this album until early last year. The record made The Paper Kites one of my favorite “new bands” of 2017.
Of the songs on twelvefour, “Electric Indigo” and “Renegade” are the best on the LP. Bentley sings all of the lead vocals on the record, with Lacy joining him on a few songs. They sing well together on the tracks “I’m Lying To You Cause I’m Lost” and “Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me.”
The entire album is fantastic, although I have found that my favorite record is States. In that LP Lacy has lead vocal duties on a handful of tracks. She has an amazing voice that adds a little diversity to the sound. Her best work is on “Cold Kind Hand,” a complex song where she sings the lyrics:
“Won’t you hear me when I’m calling for an answer? With the season it’s begging for a change. Move with it, take me as your comfort. Now I plead for love with a cold kind hand.”
In April The Paper Kites released their most recent album, On The Train Ride Home.
On The Train Ride Home
On The Train Ride Home is considerably more stripped down than its predecessors. Unlike twelvefour and States, On The Train Ride Home is mostly an acoustic record. There is minimal instrumentation. Bentley’s voice is the primary focus of every song, creating an intimate journey that reflects the solitude of the album’s title.
Bentley sings with a pensive tone throughout On The Train Ride Home. On the song “Standing In The Rain” he says that he “Tried to see what it means to say. Break my bones then I praise the pain. Don’t take shelter, standing in the rain. It’s meant to feel that way.”
The title track is also filled with melancholy. There is a subtle guitar part that makes “On The Train Ride Home” feel like you are on a train, staring out into an abyss as Bentley sings about broken vows and relationships.
The album is a testament to The Paper Kites’ abilities to tug at heart strings. It also shows how the band’s sound is maturing as they gain more experience. Several twelvefour songs included synth in the arraignment. States had more of an emphasis on guitar. Both EPs had a warmer folk vibe. On The Train Ride Home reflects a bold choice to make Bentley’s voice the centerpiece of the record.
It is stunning how well the group tweaks their base sound on each album without compromising their songwriting.
On The Train Ride Home is the first of two albums that The Paper Kites will release in 2018. In August the band will put out their fifth record, On The Corner Where You Live. Peter Katis, who has worked with Interpol and The National, is producing the new album.
The Paper Kites do not currently have any tour dates scheduled in 2018.