Paperback’s Nervous Energy proves to be catchy and lyrically diverse


By Bram Howard

In case you don’t know, Paperback is an Indie band based out of our lovely Austin, Texas who’ve been active since 2011, and who, according to their Bandcamp, have two singles and now an EP out.  As a primer, the band consists of Dylan Pacheco, Chris and John Pelletier, and Jeremy Roberts, and plays a kind of ‘90s Slacker Rock meets Pop Punk, and perhaps even Midwest Emo, vocal melodies.  The band’s most recent release, the EP Nervous Energy, gives us a great representation of this, and creates a great initial insertion point for these guys.


“Repetition,” the opener, throws you right into the band’s sound with simple, catchy power chord melodies that buzz along with layered, Poppy vocals.  The song’s central, driving beat pounds out the rhythm, living up to the title’s name, but quite effectively holding the song together, allowing for the rest of the instrumentation to use the drum’s support to do their own thing.  Beyond the standard, main texture rhythm guitar, wailing and buzzy solos run alongside each other, creating a cool kind of juxtaposition of grandiose guitar work and lo-fi noise, giving two sides to this band’s influence, while making a sound all its own.


Songs like “Cat,” on the other hand, stroll along like a Pavement or Archers of Loaf song, with a simple, Rock-y guitar melody, and a varied, meandering drum style.  This song in particular really hits home with the noticeable parallels to Slacker Rock the band shows.  The song exhibits this kind of laid-back instrumentation, and lyrics that tell about cat ownership from the perspective of the animal.  As one might expect, the cat lacks any form of apology as to its behavior.  A kind of classic ‘90s Slacker concept to a song, and one I appreciate a lot.


Speaking of lyrics, I’m impressed by this sharp divide in lyrical content these two songs pull off, again showing two different sides to this band.  As stated before, “Cat” has this humorous, cat-themed narrative that lends itself to light-heartedness and a lack of seriousness.  “Repetition,” though, has an ambiguously political or social commentary aspect to it.  Lines like, “all the wars you wage are part of someone else’s plans,” and, “Quietly become the things you’ve learned to rely on,” and, “It comes full circle pushing you around again,” give the song title new meaning, painting a picture of institutionalized complacency through an exhaustion of people’s will to push back.  Or perhaps I’m reading too far into this, either way, the lyrics make you think.


Beyond this, songs like “Blackout Streets” represent this Pop Punk side to the band where tempos are fast and vocals are melodic.  You can just sense the, “Whoa-ohs,” that could be, but you’re instead met with this early 2000s Indie/Emo instrumentation style with in-song slow downs and speedy, wailing melodies.  It’s a cool, toeing-the-line of aggression feel that I think suits the band very well, and gives the album a sense of variety in sound.


Nervous Energy presents a band that is solidly catchy and Poppy, but has a lot more going on than what might initially be apparent.  I dig a band that can kind of play both sides of the field, so to speak, being all at the same time thought-provoking and fun and carefree.  Paperback definitely, if not master this, show off a propensity towards this style of songwriting, which gives them kudos in the talent department, and make them band that, I think, are worth tracking for subsequent releases.  Think about what these guys could do with a full length album.

Paperback is celebrating their EP release this Sunday, Jan 24 at Hotel Vegas with Bear Party, Free Kittens & Bread and Pollen Rx.

Bram Howard is a music writer living in Austin, TX. He also plays in Leche.