Not out till June 2nd, Paws’ second album, Youth Culture Forever, sees the result of the Scottish trio decamping to Adam Pierce’s (Mice Parade / Swirlies) studio in the woods just outside New York to try to build on both the sound and the buzz of their debut album, Cokefloat! And to an extent, they manage to do just that.
Self produced and with Philip Taylor from the band claiming the band wanted to make Youth Culture Forever “bigger and louder, softer and quieter” and to “present the potential of our dynamic range more accurately than the first album”. Certainly, there is a denser, richer sound about this follow-up, and an added maturity about the songwriting.
This was confirmed with the first glimpse of the record, Tongues, which showed they hadn’t lost their ramshackle, ruffle haired DIY pop punk, just refined it a little. It’s certainly got that lovable rogueishness about it, this positively dreamy melody with all sorts of sounds crashing about all over it.
There’s plenty still of the 90’s alt-rock about it, opener Erreur Humaine having some of the Pixies and Sonic Youth about it, sounding comfortably weird, with these extremes of loud and quiet. Owls Talons Clenching My Heart is a similar, if slacker, lower-fi (something the band actively wanted to avoid drawing reference to with this record) style. By contrast Someone new, is much more of a singalong affair, crashing onward through this Cribs style chorus, these layers of guitar making it impossible not to like.
Give Up shows the band at their most punkish, but with Paws it’s always more in the attitude than the musical style, which never really gets beyond an over excited Libertines, and they never sound as if they want to either. And trust me, that is a strength of both the band, and the record.
After Alone steps away from the accelerator, An Honest Mistake steps it back up, but although its strong melodically, it takes its time right up until this scraping guitar at the end before it seems to have hit the required anger.
Let Go is one of the songs that best sums up Paws. Its full of melody, but it’s heavily disguised with all these zipping, messy guitar lines and throbbing basslines. The instrumental great bear is another that fits (at least musically) into what Paws seems to have been aiming for. Album finisher War Cry is an eleven minute opus of noise and melody and textures and attitude.
In a way it sums up perfectly the preceding half an hour in one fell swoop. Paws are a band on the move.