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Navigating the musical landscape on their self-titled release, indie rockers Papermaps (formerly EX~PO) chart their course with energetic power pop melodies, distorted vocals and gritty guitar riffs. Guided by chief singer and songwriter Dean Marino, the Toronto four-piece have crafted 10 richly textured tracks for an eager, spirited debut.

With propelling rhythms and swelling instrumentals, standout opener “Angela” sets the power pop tone for the first three songs of the album. Building an infectious energy, “Reunion” makes a splash with melodic piano bursts and charming group vocals, while “Can’t Make a Living” shines with its anthemic, crescendoing chant, “Guitar’s alright/But you can’t make a living.”

Marking a mid-album departure, the sexually-charged and synth-heavy “Complicate Things” veers Papermaps off its power pop course. With its dark electronics and brash lyrics (“Let’s consummate this/I feel like shit”), “Complicate Things” feels disjointed from the album’s more spirited anthems.  

After regaining momentum with the nimble, guitar-driven “Exit,” Papermaps ventures along a more vulnerable path. Winding down to the fragile acoustics of “Wishful Thinker” and the meditative call-and-response rhythms of “You Are My Gallows,” Papermaps finds its strongest footing in compelling instrumentals and passionate pipes.

By Hilary Marchildon
Jun 28, 2011

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