Lit from Within
Parliament of Trees
The Paperbacks are unquestionably the best indie band working today. Not only have they made the best album of 2010 so far with their latest Lit from Within, but this one album consists of two albums’ worth of music. With two discs, 32 songs, and over two hours of new music, The Paperbacks have made an album that in the indie world is the equivalent to The Smashing Pumpkins epic double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.
Both discs start with tracks that remind me of “Scouthall,” the expanding and methodic Â¾ time opening track on the Bluebottle Kiss album Come Across. “Good Lives (For Bad Reasons)” from Disc One and “The Arc of a Light” from Disc Two start off waltzing along with lyrics like “Prelapsarian variants on my own past struggle to supplant the last vestiges of memory I have” and “You search for winter’s definition, but seasons dull to shades” that pass aimlessly by… the first time you listen. As the songs expand to glorious climaxes, you get ready to press the rewind button on your iPod. Once you do (which you will, I guarantee it), the lyrics suck you in and you are hooked. And that’s just the first tracks of each disc!
The first disc (after blowing your mind with the opening track) rolls right into the musically upbeat, but lyrically sobering “Stars (For Claire Massey).” Musically, the fast-paced tone cloaks the actual meaning behind the song, encapsulated in the line “Now the tide of the morning sun just reminds me that you’re gone… and how we all left you behind.” Follow that up with the Echo and the Bunnymen-ish “The Asheville Period (In Retrospect)” and you have the best opening trio any album has offered this year. And there are still 12 (fantastic) songs to go!
The second disc carries on with nothing but premium indie pop/rock, especially the killer Pavement-esque “Math Damage/Maggot Age” and the Death Cab for Cutie-sounding “Casually Swearing at the Vacant Coastline.”
I should have known that this album was made for those who like substance. Two discs chock full of songs with titles like “A Hawthorne Sublet,” “Patron Saint of Atheists,” and “Illness as Metaphor” are bound to attract indie snobs and casual listeners alike.
Lit from Within has become one of my all-time favorite albums, and it is the best album of 2010 so far. The combination of Echo and the Bunnymen, Bluebottle Kiss, classic R.E.M., Death Cab for Cutie, Pavement, and countless other bands’ influences has made me an instant lifelong fan. Ever since I put the first disc in, I have listened to nothing but this album. The only downside is deciding which disc to put in. I guess if you just put it on your iPod, you won’t have a problem with it.