With musical references to The Icarus Line, French trio Papier Tigre (pronounced pap-yeah tee-grr for those who are curious) favour a similar line of arty nonsense, offbeat guitars and slightly out of time melodies that make third album ‘Recreation’ a rather beguiling if underwhelming listen.
The biggest issue with the band’s third long player is simply how disjointed it feels, unsure of whether they’re more comfortable pushing their brand of raucous post-punk (‘Parents and Neighbours’) or leftfield indie pop (‘Teenage Lifetime’). For a band who revels in its own misplaced sense of eccentricities, there’s surprisingly little to like here. The frantic stop-start nature of opener ‘I’m Someone who Dies’ is a cocktail of sounds and rhythms that never manages to gather itself into a coherent piece of work.
The same could be said of the majority of ‘Recreation’ - the band seemingly more content with mirroring snippets of other people’s work as opposed to being a creative force in their own right. The playful bass lines that introduce ‘Chimera’ for example would sit more comfortably nestled amongst a Vampire Weekend set list than amongst the album’s nine other tracks.
‘Home Truths’ is Papier Tigre’s most complete song on the album, its rumbling bass weaving in and out of Pierre-Antoine Parois’ steady drums, yielding for once a satisfying direction to a track. ‘Is it a lie is it a lie?’ chimes vocalist Eric Pasquereau, which fittingly does leave you wondering if the album’s foundations are little more than a wafer thin disguise for a lack of decent material.
Considering the disappointment that previous album The Beginning and End of Now brought with it three years ago, ‘Recreation’ does little to address this situation. The entertainingly titled ‘This and That and More of This and That’ is a prime example of the band’s weaknesses - flat vocals and a total lack of direction means that when the song ends as suddenly as it starts, it comes as a bit of a relief.
The words of Pasquereau in ‘The Later Reply’ - in which he sings ‘If I was going somewhere, this would be better’ - resonate with a certain truth to it, though in fairness, there are a few salvageable moments. The nervous bass lines that imposes itself throughout ‘Afternoon’ makes for an enjoyable listen, the tune violently and relentlessly building to a claustrophobic climax. It’s just a shame the quality doesn’t remain at this level for long.