On their debut album “Girlk” Papperbok deliver us 33 minutes of the best psych pop music of 2016 and in the process announce their arrival as a real contender to take down the whole Tame Impala empire. Ever since the mid-2000’s Brisbane has been promising to produce a pop band capable of taking over the world and since about 2010 we’ve watched them all fade away, break up or attempt to pathetically move onto the next trend. I’m confident in saying that finally Brisbane has the band capable and it is Papperbok and on their debut album “Girlk” they don’t waste anytime proving why they will ascend to become the new pop music elite.
What makes “Girlk” such a special experience is the way it is sequenced. For every pop hook there is a moody interlude swaying in and out allowing the album to move along like one big track. As isolated tracks, each song is brilliant but for the ultimate listening experience you need to sit and listen to the record front to back. The production is perfect and despite the extreme layering present on each track there is still a lot of dynamics allowing each track the space to breathe and grow without a total saturation of the frequencies. All of the players on this album are masters of their craft and know the perfect time to be silent but also attack. This makes the proggier moments more interesting and the pop songs a more direct punch. It’s nice to hear a band lean on their influences but not get too nostalgic about it. You can certainly hear that Papperbok are disciples of The Flaming Lips, Blur, Radiohead, The Beatles and Pink Floyd (and Tame Impala I’m willing to bet as well) but they don’t steal or replicate, they re-invent these established dynamics to help create their own unique sonic dialogue.
The real star of this album however is Annabelle Bingley whose vocals create such a spooky yet beautiful atmosphere. It doesn’t matter whether she is on lead vocals or providing backing vocals, she is a truly creative force and provides fresh, interesting and dynamic melodic passages that lift these songs to some out of this world places. Her voice is pure escapism and carries with it equal amounts of beauty, despair, angst, heartache, humour and celebration. Any dull rock n roll or pop song cliché displayed by the band is instantly washed away the moment her voice elegantly arrives on any of the tracks.
That is not to say that this album is cliched, far from it. In context of the modern music landscape it is a true treasure to behold. As a movement of music “Girlk” is a sublime treat of psych pop goodness that is in debt to all of the great British mood bands of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and although the band has opted for a concept record it’s hard for me not to dig deep into these lyrics and see them as metaphors for the authors own personal pain. Using a bit of fiction to help amplify the deep sigh of modern living works well for Papperbok and it allows for the emotion of each song to be more direct and in the process opening up your own imagination. It’s all very cinematic and as one piece of music it moves like “The Final Cut” era Pink Floyd only with more shoegaze aesthetics and post-rock drama which helps to edge it to sounding like a lost timeless classic.
This album may have taken Papperbok a number of years to record and release but I’m confident it won’t take long for the band to receive extreme critical acclaim for the end result. I’m confident in saying that “Girlk” is a definite contender for our end of year top eleven list and I look forward to seeing the rest of the world fall in love with the brilliant, intense and smart song writing skills that Papperbok have shown on this record.
An outstanding debut album that is total fucking godhead
By: Dan Newton
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