It seems that recently, the cultural memory has forgotten just how much the early 90s shoegaze movement was compared to 60s psychedelic rock. It’s a natural comparison—at that point, there weren’t too many sonic touchstones that you could point to at that point. To what could you compare the disorienting walls of guitars of My Bloody Valentine, the swirling pop songs of Slowdive, or the unintelligible haze of Cocteau Twins? The druggy haze of psychedelic rock was an imperfect comparison, but it wasn’t far off. Both genres sought to emulate—or create—altered states of consciousness in the listener, both through extensive sonic experimentation.
While the modern shoegaze and dream pop scene may have forgotten the ties between shoegaze and psychedelic rock, Jason Quever, the man behind Papercuts, has not. On his new EP, there is the distinct rosy haze of dream pop’s ethereal fog, guitars and vocals coated in a healthy dose of reverb, keyboards hanging weightlessly in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the rhythm section follows the playbook of classic psychedelic bands like The Byrds, Pink Floyd, early Who, and Revolver era Beatles. Tambourines, jangling guitars, and a few Ringo-esque drum fills further enforce the vibe.
And it is a truly lovely vibe. And it has the songs to match. Baxter’s Bliss features three new originals from Quever and two covers: “The Partisan” by Leonard Cohen and “When Wil You Come Home” by Galaxie 500. The originals are clever and charming—you can practically see Quever playing these songs in a collarless suit against a brightly colored backdrop (imagine Sgt Pepper or Their Satanic Majesties Request). Closer“End Times Daily” strips it all back to just acoustic guitar and piano, Quever’s voice hovering delicately above the instruments.
The covers on the other hand show off his talent for arranging. He adds wobbly synths, plucky bass, and booming drums to “The Partisan,” which makes it sound even more like it belongs in a Western. “When Will You Come Home” is particularly endearing, with a bouncing string section accompanying a Motorik drum beat and a chiming guitar line.
In all, it’s a delightful EP that serves as an appetizing sampler platter of what Papercuts does best, and it’s certainly whet my appetite for more.
Follow the band on Instagram.