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Music Review: Paper Route – Absence

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The release of Absence has been years in the making. For Paper Route ‘s full-length debut, the Nashville-based band worked hard to finally put out their music for the world’s pleasure.

“We’re ready to bring these songs to our listeners to just live them out, to get them out of our system,” J.T. Daly (vocals, keyboard, percussion) explained. “So much of our life have been paused in these songs and we really can’t move on until we start playing them live. We’re all ready for this” (press release).

Three of the four members (Daly, Andy Smith – vocals, guitar, harmonica, and Chad Howat – programming, piano, keyboard, bass) of Paper Route were previously members of a obviously now-defunct band while in college. They continued to be friends while each branched off to engage in different interests. Howat was the only one to continue making music, and soon asked Daly and Smith to contribute to what he was working on.

Paper RouteIt was in mid-2006 that Paper Route was officially born with the release of their self-titled EP. Around this time, Gavin McDonald (drums) joined, and the band was officially whole and ready to explore their 1980s-esque new wave pop. The range on Absence is surprisingly vast, varying from the serene ambiance of the Air-like “Enemy Among Us” to the symphonic harmonies of “Carousel” to the pseudo soul-tinged crooning of “Be Healed.”

Unpredictably, much of this is motivated the album’s broad themes. Howat recalls that over “the course of making this record, we’ve gone through failed relationships, sicknesses and deaths among our friends and families. But that’s life.” Love is a dominant theme. Sometimes it’s the hurt of not being with someone (Depeche Mode-inspired “Good Intentions”), the hurt of loving someone too much (the body moving “Tiger Teeth”), or the all-too-often simple pain of love (“Last Time”).

There are a couple of instrumental-heavy electronic tracks (“No Sudden Revelations” and “Dance On Our Graves”) toward the album’s end that seem out of place. They fit in mood but contrast in feel. Nonetheless, Paper Route’s Absence is a satisfying throwback to 1980s electronic rock.

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About Tan The Man

A proud dork and loser, Tan The Man writes mostly about film and music, and has previously covered the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, South By Southwest and WonderCon.