We've already covered an earlier preview from this album, and now with the new single "Walk Above The City (feat. MARO)" we are taking the opportunity to write a full review of "Roses," from indie-folk heroes - and CHILLFILTR favorites - The Paper Kites. Nettwerk Records was kind enough to let us preview the full 10-song collection, which is the band’s fifth studio album, set to be released on March 12. Spoiler alert: it's fantastic, and features a dizzying amount of talent and musical chemistry between this Australian quintet and an international cast of co-lead vocalists. Each song on "Roses" puts a different collaborator in the spotlight, while this list includes Rosie Carney, MARO, Lucy Rose, Julia Stone, Nadia Reid, Aoife O’Donovan, Ainslie Wills, Amanda Bergman, Lydia Cole, and Gena Rose Bruce.
What I connect with most about The Paper Kates is their exquisite simplicity, which extends from a sonic aesthetic that feels both spiritually inevitable and gloriously carefree. They, at once, seem to be tapping on the roots of traditional folk music, but also achieving a distinct, virtuosic sort of elegance that is so artfully tucked behind a core of passionate songwriting, that it feels completely natural. This kind of musical alchemy — that fabricates gravitas from pure, honest emotion — recalls the understated mastery of classic hitmakers like Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, and Fleetwood Mac, but also achieves a distinct sense of character that can only be described as iconic.
Touching that nerve of universal pop appeal while also maintaining a unique and constantly-evolving musical identity is no small feat, yet The Paper Kites seem to have no problem finding new avenues for cross-genre exploration. On "Roses," although the dominant musical inspiration is still centered on melodic folk-pop in the way their fans will have have come to expect, there are tracks that move into a deeper rock vibe, and others that touch on retro-pop and even hints of synthwave. I can't imagine that tried-and-true fans of The Paper Kites won't find a lot to love about "Roses." This is a gorgeous album with no weak spots, and a perfect starting point for new fans.
By My Side (feat. Rosie Carney) delivers some wonderful bon mots that illustrate the subtle grip of true connection — that limitless passion that pushes us to be better for the ones we love.
I want to vanish in the night with you
I want to take you 'round the town, I do
I'm going to make some kind of light for you
Any way I can
But First the New Single
"Walk Above The City" is the second preview release from Roses, which features a duet with Portuguese singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist MARO, who is Lennon Stella's favorite singer, at least according to a post Lennon made on IG early last year. The current hype around MARO is considerable, and in my view, well deserved. Her airy and delicate performance on breakout track from 2018 — "Still Feel It All" — is absolutely captivating, and her only single drop from last year, a delicious, slow syncopation with hints of samba reggae called "Mi Condensa," further illustrates her impressive range as a performer and songwriter.
The understated and lush mix from "Walk Above The City" hints at the broader aesthetic of The Paper Kites, in that almost every element of their music is soothing, and perfectly polished, but also contributes to a collective sense of yearning. As pop-friendly as this music is, there are still oceans of wistful emotion that simmer just beneath the surface, such that every new listen yields another nuance of beautiful longing.
Bright lights and tired streets
We could get away
No time to even speak
Nothing to say
No rain or storms above
That could make us stay
Let's walk above the city
You and I
With the help of MARO, "Walk Above The City" is a fitting lead track for the latest full-length drop from The Paper Kites — it starts out easy, building from the acoustic guitar and the slightest hint of bass drum, and develops quickly into a showcase of MARO's stunning vocal presence, evoking deep emotion and just a touch of sadness. Her accomplishments include a six-album discography, touring with GRAMMY® winner Jacob Collier, and getting picked up under the management wing of legendary producer Quincy Jones. On "Walk Above The City" MARO provides a gorgeous and unexpected counterpoint to the proven vocal synergy between Sam Bentley and Christina Lacy, and together they construct a musical dream-state that seems to go by in an instant.
A Cohesive Work of Art
For the better part of a decade, loosely mirroring the meteoric rise of Spotify as a go-to platform for breaking new acts, labels and artists have increasingly bent to the pressure of putting out new music in a sequence of 'drips' - a song per month, perhaps, in advance of a new release. This single-centric model has worked to the benefit of some, and the detriment of others, in that there is much less popular momentum behind the idea of listening to such a thing as an album — many new artists, especially in the electronic and hip hop space, don't even make albums any more. But certain genres still feel like a good match for long-form artistry — and rootsy folk-pop is certainly one of them. With this new release, The Paper Kites are at the top of their game, and it seems pretty clear that "Roses" will only serve to extend the reach of their already impressive international appeal. From the first time we wrote about them — for "Deep Burn Blue," from their 2018 offering "On the Corner Where You Live" — The Paper Kites have only continued to grow, as their songs are more raw, more visceral, and more heartrendingly precious than ever before.
Simply put, "Roses" is an inviting and rewarding folk-pop album that deserves a long look from anyone that loves a good song, a sticky melody, and lyrics that actually mean something. If I could buy stock in The Paper Kites, I would be all in on this album: it's that good.
"Roses" was produced by Sam Bentley and Tom Iansek (#1 Dads, Big Scary).
Visit The Paper Kites on Instagram.
Visit MARO on Instagram.