The Paperbacks

The Paperbacks

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The Paperbacks bring together various characters from celebrated Midwestern punk rock quartets the Goblins and Chinese Millionaires, raiding the garage once again for old Kinks and Saints riffs, this time in service to a statuesque voice of unknown origin. The volume hasn't quite hit 11 yet, but their debut is loud, sarcastic, and aggressive in all the right ways, starting off strong with the caveman riff of "Catastrophe" and immediately testing the limits of frontlady L. Hotshot's lungs. The band finds their footing and stands fully erect with "I Know Rock & Roll," a Joan Jett-worthy anthem that plays casually with cartoonish anti-authoritarianism. L. Hotshot rants against the advice of her mother and the wisdom of the educational system (isn't she old enough to know that her peers are the true enemy?), pledging lifelong allegiance to the vaudeville of her generation. Still, the big, big chorus is righteous and irony-free, and there are snarling, spitting guitars beneath the corny canned applause and one-finger piano. "Drop Dead Crazy" is the hit, a bitchy put down number full of jittery tension that winds up fast and blows free in riff-snapping snorts; it triples the energy of the other tracks and renders a few of them moot. The six-song disc finishes off with more variations on the theme, plus a stab at power balladry ("You Won't Get My Tears") that cries out for some Spectors-style strings or choir. Time will tell whether this debut is a formative effort or a creative peak, but the Paperbacks are capable of some head-cracking classics in the future if they can embrace their excesses and fine-tune the message they want "the kids" to hear.

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