Sunday, April 7, 2013

Album Review: Paris - Paris

Album Rating: A-
Paris' self-titled EP is sure to please the "plebs." The group to which the pejorative term refers is typically made up of more casual listeners who genuinely enjoy watered-down metalcore, among other genres usually treated with scorn by an unfortunately elitist music community. While I could go on for days about the poisonous nature of this elitism and scorn and how it hurts the community as a whole, this discussion isn't the point of the review. Going back to my original statement, then, Paris seems tailor-made for the droves of people who will no doubt air-guitar along with tunes like "The Heartless." There's a noticeable amount of chugging, the guitars are all distorted and fuzzy, and lead vocalist Lynn Gunnulfsen sounds like a grittier version of Hayley Williams, no doubt attracting fans of the more popular (and usually critically disliked) pop-punk and alt-metal bands with female vocalists like Flyleaf and Tonight Alive. While I am personally fine with angsty teenagers having fun with bands like Paris, critical appreciation is a different story altogether. Too many bands of Paris' ilk are trapped under pointless clichés and poorly-done instrumentation and lyrics, and no matter how many people enjoy them it's simply impossible to say glowing things about the bands in a well-written review that people will respect.

What's excellent about Paris, then, is that it's a release that a critic can genuinely enjoy, and it's easy to say good things about the EP. For starters, the guitar work is excellent. It sounds like everything people enjoyed about emo bands like 30 Seconds To Mars, with wailing octaves and playing which comes close to wankery at times (but never quite reaches that state) which sounds vaguely in the same arena as the aforementioned band's "Attack." The guitars are stellar throughout the release, and the noodling throughout complement the rest of the instruments excellently. What's more, the vocals work very well. Gunnulfsen, rather than relying on the oft-used autotuned "clean" vocals and weak screams of the so-called "shitty metalcore," uses her shockingly powerful voice to great effect. Utilizing the clean pop-punk vocals of Jenna McDougall with a hint of Halestorm's Lzzy Hale and her gruffer, dirtier rock sound, the vocals are a pillar of strength in an area one might not expect them.

More importantly, the songwriting is interesting and compelling. Ignoring the somewhat stereotypical drums, everything about Paris sounds fascinating and fresh. And, to be honest, though those drums are stereotypical, they fit the EP to a T - everything gels perfectly. "Waking Up" demonstrates the excellent song-meets-instrumentation combo with its choruses which the overused word "anthemic" actually describes well, its guitars are interesting and quick, and the changes in beat work exceedingly well. The song is hooky, it's catchy, and it's poppy - and it does all that while still managing to be good from a critical perspective. It's the story of the whole EP, really - bursting with power chords, guitar noodling, interesting vocals, and most importantly, life. So here's to the "scene kids" who will sit up in their rooms with their iPods and put this EP on shuffle a few times in a row. Aside from one misstep ("Only Love" shows the band can't really do ballads well, as is apparent from the total lack of emotion in the song) and a noticeable homogeneity pervading the whole thing, Paris is that one-in-a-thousand release that shouldn't get bashed just because of its target audience. For once, both "elitists" and "plebs" should get along: this is a very solid release, and deserves to be treated with respect by all music fan, no matter the alignment.

You can stream or buy the EP here.


1. Demon Limbs
2. Waking Up
3. Mind Over Matter
4. Only Love
5. The Heartless (ft. Josh Herzer)

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