Rarely has a record been more appropriately named than Joy, the third album from welsh duo Paper Aeroplanes. From opening track ‘Good Love Lives On’ to the concluding ‘Goldrush’, Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn lead the listener through an album of bright optimism, with only the occasional shimmer of melancholy. For fans of 2013’s Little Letters, there remains a familiar, finger-picked folk sound, but joining it is a fresh electronic element, creating something a little closer to pop than any of their previous fare, while Howells’ beguiling vocals trade in storytelling in favour of a more poetic lyrical style. Even so, each song is a story of beginning, middle and end. Less concerned than before with love lost or longed for, this is an album drawn from a well of hope.
‘Guessing Game’ and ‘Books’ lend a pacy start, showing off the upbeat electronic angle which remains throughout, even in the slow and steady ‘Caravan’. With its hauntingly repetitive piano and heartbeat drum, it sounds like it should be telling a sorrowful tale, but the lyrics deceptively reveal a state of contentedness and delighting in a fond memory, with opening lines ‘Light broke over the hillside/dancing down the heather to the bay’ setting the tone for the rest of the song. The next track, ‘Sail’, is the closest the album comes to sadness: ‘We are broken hearted now/we are all false starts and doubts’. Quick on its heels comes the title track, ‘Joy’, which is a pretty cacophony of percussion and layered vocals; an exuberant expression of its name.
Paper Aeroplanes are embarking on a 14-date UK tour in May; reconnecting with a well-established and loyal fan base, and will inevitably add more to their number, because Joy is as its name to all who listen.
Words: Angeline Liles