Born from the ashes of acoustic pop outfit Halflight, Paper Aeroplanes are the combined musical talents of vocalist Sarah Howells and guitar-man Richard Llewellyn – and it doesn’t take Poirot-esque detective skills to work out that the debut from welsh group Paper Aeroplanes is an indie-pop record – from the sweetly fairytale-ish album name to the cover art depicting vocalist Sarah Howells running through a field strewn with feathers – everything about Paper Aeroplanes screams of the kind of doe-eyed, twinkly twee currently being peddled by the likes of Noah and The Whale and Theoretical Girl. So how does the music itself measure up?
‘The Day We Ran Into The Sea’ is an album for those like their folk-pop with emphasis on the pop – this album would sound far more at home blasting out of an AM radio station than trickling from Bon Iver’s wood cabin. Its blend of soft guitars chords and sweetly simplistic sentiments – ‘I’m trying to get over you but I can’t!’ coos Sarah at one point (the simultaneous pricking of every romantic comedy director’s ears in the world is almost tangible) – isn’t particularly innovative, but it’s Goddamn likeable, and Sarah’s undeniable talent for conjuring insanely catchy, well-crafted pop tunes out of a couple of acoustic strums is enviable.
I’m well aware that it’d be churlish to pick threads at what is an overwhelmingly amiable debut, but ‘The Day We Ran into the Sea’ has one fault that doesn’t ruin the album completely, mars it slightly – the production.
It’s a mistake often made by over-eager acoustic bands entering a studio to record their debuts – obviously their first priority is to gloss over their rough edges, but on ‘The Day We Ran Into The Sea’ the production seems, well, a little overzealous. A thick, sticky, production gloss hangs over Paper Aeroplane’s perfectly constructed little ditties, obscuring the emotion and scrupulous care that Sarah obviously puts into her songs, making the already slightly-sticky sentiments even stickier.
However, Paper Aeroplanes have bags of raw talent, and I feel they would fare better live, with just Sarah, an acoustic guitar and raw emotion.
Words: Katherine Rodgers