Review: Paper Tiger – Made Like Us (2010)

Music has undergone an unexpected renaissance since the internet has destroyed decades long barriers. What if the industry just ignored your region? What would happen? Well, Minnesota has albeit been ignored aside from exceptions named The Replacements and Prince. It has not stemmed the relentless creativity that rappers spurned, and now producers the likes of Mux Mool and Paper Tiger are taking the Twin Cities and making it their court.

Paper Tiger moonlights as the Doomtree collective’s live DJ, graphic wizard, and producer. His beats are characteristically organic, relaxed and laid bare in taking the natural and manipulating it à la Art Nouveau. The sounds are not completely natural, although they damn well should be.

Made Like Us pulls all those strings to make his first full length an ace debut. The foundation laid forth by “The Chaconne” on Dessa‘s A Badly Broken Code and P.O.S.‘s “Low Light Low Life” is followed here with strings and tickled ivories, and reinforced by a vocalist lineup as strong as Indian teak. The instrumentals outright orientate the curious through pianos and a hushed, hallowed set of violins. Laying forth a bed of leaves, those musical notes are soon decomposed and deconstructed by “2nd Day Back.” The first indication of manipulation lie in the twisted vocals, yet Paper Tiger soon extracts the natural strings and curves them much as Gaudí. See “The Bully Plank” above. “The Tarrio” is the strangest, feeling distorted and manufactured to be a mechanical Gayngs track. Yet “Cigana” and its train whistles recuperate the flow strengthened through the strings and a vocal track that is reminiscent of Wax Tailor‘s Tales of the Forgotten Memories.

The reinforced base benefits from talented voices the likes of Dessa, as mentioned above, and Maggie Morrison. Dessa can be distinguished as the steadfast, soul behind “And the Camera” and “Palace.” The former feels less like a Doomtree track, and more a rain-soaked letter carefully crafted and hand-delivered. The pre-chorus vocal build up highlights her voice, as Paper Tiger’s piano-led production perfects the song. “The Painter’s Arm” asserts itself subversively as the highlight of his full-length. Not only is his signature production with echoing, nearly shattering percussion superb, but it is balanced equally by Miss Morrison’s ghostly elegant voice. Her singing hangs and clings with tempered emotion in parallel with the stern, naturally industrial drum beat.

Made Like Us is broken up by “5360” and “The Tarrio,” disrupted so to say before that organic continuity regains traction. Nevertheless Paper Tiger’s debut full length displays the current state of affairs in Minneapolis musically as the artists manipulate and mold forward.

Paper Tiger
Official | iTunes

Rating: 7.5/10

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