Welsh duo Paper Aeroplanes, Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn return with their latest release, simply entitled Joy. Recorded over the past eighteen months in Cardiff with producer Mason Neeley at the helm, Joy is their first release on the Newport-based Diverse Records.
The album opens with a more electronic sound than on previous releases. Good Love Lives On is an immediately catchy tune, a song for optimists, no doubt keeping in spirit with the title of the album. The mystery of relationships is explored is Guessing Game, a song where Howells doesn’t claim to hold any of the answers. ‘How to know when your head is right and your heart is wrong’ is all part of this guessing game with the realisation that we have to simply ‘leave the future up to fate’.
An acoustic guitar, gentle accompaniment and Howell’s clear vocals is a more back to roots approach on Race You Home, a short track that focuses on the basic things in life that can bring comfort when ‘hope is nearly gone’. Emily is a change in mood with a fast paced drumbeat driving the track along. It’s the standout track for me despite having a number of strong contenders. Scratching electric guitars and lush vocal harmonies all combine to create a snappy, intense song.
The album’s title track is an upbeat explosion of emotion that encourages that starts with the rather unusual repetition of the vowels minus the ‘u’. It is one of those summer sounding songs composed to fill your soul with that three-lettered word. Michael Schulte features on Placebos. The heavy lyric, ‘Can I keep it pure with all this poison in my chest?’, is typical of the rather introspective mood of this rather searching song.
Goldrush is a sombre ending to what is mostly an uplifting album but there’s a lot to admire in the production and rich accompaniment to Howell’s haunting vocal performance. The last line, ‘From the edge of love disappeared with violence I drift among the sheets to finally find the calm that comes with sleep,’ is a particularly striking way to sign off the album and leave the listening pondering what type of calmness has been found and at what price?
With Joy, Paper Aeroplanes have produced an album of quality that is sure to enhance their reputation further. It is a fine collection of well-produced, masterly composed songs that demand to be listened to on repeat.