"What a thing to force on a child, rope burns on wrists and ankles," sing Paper Lions on the very first line of their debut album. Okay, this isn't a good-time band; better to make that clear from the outset instead of leaving that open to question, probably. If you're going to claim this territory, though, it's good to offer something fresh in the idiom. Paper Lions don't, though they execute the approach tightly, with tense, irregular rhythms, anxious ominous melodies, and songs about futility, on-the-edge unpleasant suffering, and getting taken advantage of. The vocals are pissed off but in control of their anger, something which sets this off from the hardcore punk that shares some of the same lyrical concerns. It's varied in melody and rhythm, yet not too varied in its tone and attitude, and not memorable. "Graduation Prize Prize" stands out just a little with its melodica and sputtering guitar.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger