It's hard to do prog rock on the cheap, but Paper Airplanes give it the old college try on their debut album, Boyhood. The Wichita trio, augmented by a bunch of friends playing violin, cello, accordion, French horn, chimes, trombone, and trumpet, create complicated, overstuffed arrangements for their songs, which are usually melodic, even though the melodies only serve as a base for grandiose productions. Fearlessly disregarding the conventional demands of sound equalization and needles that go into the red, they record tracks that fill up the room, with instruments clashing and distorting in near cacophony at times. Then, suddenly, a track will stop on a dime for a second of silence or a single, clearly defined instrument, before things rev up again. Marcus Stoesz sings with adenoidal strain within these sound pictures, like a man barely keeping his head above water in a relentless tide, warbling abstract and impressionistic lyrics. The group's obvious immediate influence is the Flaming Lips, but they've clearly been listening to Pink Floyd, among other progressive rock bands. If they had more money to spend in the studio, and a bit more experience, not to mention a better sense of organization and more coherent songs, they might be able to make something of all this, and in the future, maybe they will. Boyhood is an earnest effort, even if simultaneously overdone and under-realized.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann