Artist Profile: The Paper Cranes

Oktober 11th, 2007 by admin

Canada’s yielded some of the world’s best new bands over the last five years, but 2007 is yet to see a single band (save for maybe Holy Fuck) come close to the greatness of previous exports like the Arcade Fire, New Pornographers and Wolf Parade. However, Vancouver’s own Paper Cranes look primed to carry the torch with an extremely promising debut EP and 7″ out in Canada and the UK, respectively. The Veins EP compiles four of the band’s best tracks to date and an excellent remix, while the vinyl single takes the EP’s standout tracks, “I’ll Love You Until Your Veins Explode” and “Milkrun”, and slaps them onto two sides of a 7″ record to introduce the band to audiences across the pond. Out on Longest Mile Records, the label founded by the Futureheads’ Ross Millard, it’s one of the most impressive debut singles of the year featuring two sides of keyboard and piano-driven pop perfection.

As the story goes, one who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted one wish, for whatever they desire. It’s from this Japanese legend that the band take their name and draw the inspiration for “I’ll Love You Until My Veins Explode”, a pounding piano-based track featuring a haunting, almost hollowed-out production approach that emphasizes the dark desperation of the lyrics perfectly. The track draws heavily from the styles of the Cure and the Arcade Fire to an almost egregious point, but the brilliant songwriting is enough for me to look past that without a second thought. Invoking the paper cranes story to illustrate his desperation (”One thousand paper cranes for you, you cut my paper heart in two”), vocalist Ryan McCullagh’s emotive lyrics are some of the best of the year. I’m especially taken by his brilliant allusions to the Trojan War (”You’ve got wooden bones, you trojan horse/I’ll let your soldiers in my fort”) and Christian Saints (”Like Saint Sebastian on a tree/I’ve got your arrows stuck in me/It hurts too much to pull them out/So I’ll cut holes into my coat”) to represent his emotional strife, and you really can’t ask for more here from a songwriting perspective.

While the Arcade Fire/Cure comparisons are clearly justified on “Veins”, it’s primarily a vocal similarity, but on “Milkrun” the Cure’s influence holds dominion over the entire song. From the vocal structure, to the keys and guitars and especially that chorus, a lot of people will hate on the Cranes for such blatant aping of an established sound. To be honest, it just sounds like a really great Cure song, and I can’t really have a problem with that. Besides, Robert Smith and company have inspired FAR shittier bands in recent years, so I’m not really complaining.

Built around the creative force and husband-wife duo of Ryan McCullagh (vox/guitar) and Miranda Roach-McCullagh (keys) with a rotating cast of musicians and friends pitching in to make up the rhythm section, the Paper Cranes are the flagship artist on up-and-coming Candian imprint Unfamilar Records and a band to get very excited about in the coming months. In “Veins” and “Milkrun” alone you’ve got massive pop songs just waiting to break into the limelight, but too much polish would rob the tracks of the desperate atmosphere in which they flourish. Thus, one can only hope the songs don’t fall victim to overproduction and the charm of the originals holds over from the EP to their upcoming album. Said album is Halcyon Days, which was originally meant to be released in August, but has been since postponed while Unfamiliar looks to secure a legitimate distribution deal. Regardless of when it comes out though, it’s destined to be hotly anticipated by anyone with even the slightest exposure to the tracks below and will likely turn a lot of people onto the Paper Cranes’ cause. Acquaint yourself with the band below and don’t be surprised when you see “Veins” on my Top Tracks list at the end of the year.

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