The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Papernut Cambridge
There's No Underground Aug Stone , December 11th, 2014 12:34

This is a great rock & roll record. Ian Button may be "haunted by the insects in his dark imaginings", as he intones on opener 'The Ghost Of Something Small', but outside that buzzing hook-laden head of his, it's a leisurely ride through glittering neon, the fluorescence that illuminates rock's shadowy nighttime world. The lights that feel like they're never gonna end whilst terminating all too quickly – there's 12 songs in 30 minutes here. But no matter, press play again and we're back amidst the exiled warriors on Electric Main Street. Just as one would never fault T. Rex for being derivative, so here the nods to rock's past – The Stones, Bolan himself, The Replacements, Kinks, and Mary Chain – are simply the lineage continuing itself. All sung in that sweet sinister voice a la Jim Reid, with just as sharp an ear for melody.

Ian Button (Death In Vegas, The Thrashing Doves, and a host of other bands) delivers on the promise set out with last year's Papernut Cambridge debut, Cambridge Nutflake. 'The Ghost Of Something Small' sees that record's killer 'Aphrodisiac' now trapped in the psyche of its 'darkside'. This new album is released in three different versions – a CD (with mixes exclusive to it), a deluxe version containing extra extended/alternate mixes and versions, and a triple 7" on 42g black vinyl with a download that includes eight bonus/alternate and extended mixes.

Released earlier this year on the Swaps EP, 'When She Said What She Said' has all the makings of a single and would've done well in the period directly preceding Britpop. But it's the title track and 'Accident's Children' that immediately catch the ear, burrow in, and stay for as long as you can keep singing them to yourself. 'There's No Underground', despite the possibility of being a grand metaphor for the current state of music, is really just literally what it says, describing Papernut World's environs on the outskirts of London, 'halfway between the big city and nowhere'. 'Accident's Children' is gorgeous, honeyed lips seducing out of the inertia, making the best of 'going nowhere'. And 'Si J'Étais Français' soon makes itself known as another already classic rock & roll tune, its insistent groove tumbling us down the Champs Élysées.

There's a smooth looseness to the whole record, a slow swirl most prominent on 'Umbrella Man', a song that could drift off to narcotic dreams at any second. Lovely use of multi-layered voices and there's a couple of piano chords towards the end – not so much wrong as perhaps thoughtlessly jazz – that really drive home how relaxed this whole feel is. The pervading atmosphere, right on for what Button's expressing, is reflected perfectly in the title of closer 'Rock N Roll Sunday Afternoon City Lights'. The track itself one of the most upbeat on the record – think Lawrence and Denim at the height of their 70s channeling powers. 'Nutflake Social' is also firmly rooted in the glam rock of that decade, and of course every band should have their own theme song and signature dance.