Everything Is Broken & I Don't Feel A Thing by The Burning ParisRelease date: July 12, 2023
Label: Dark Operative
Watching the news this week as Paris is set alight it’s a freakish coincidence that Massachusetts quintet The Burning Paris release their first album in almost two decades. The album’s title Everything Is Broken & I Don’t Feel A Thing is also bizarrely fitting. Now, The Burning Paris are a new name to me, I was lured in by the references to some of my favourite bands in the PR. One listen to lead track ‘When You Were Here’ had me snared. Details of this band are pretty limited, I had to do some additional Googling to find out the band consist of Nathan Shumaker (vocals and guitar), Jenny Townsend (cello and keyboards), Chris Lordan (bass), Jon McMahan (guitar), J Coppa (guitar) and Brad Caetano (drums).
The album opens with ‘Merganser’, which is a superbly produced and assured song, the warm guitar tones and strings combining with delightful twinkles, it’s wondrously melancholic. A substantial amount of the music I listen to features distorted roaring guitars so it’s nice to settle down with some clean tones now and then. The guitars on the aforementioned ‘When You Were Here’ are a very lovely thing indeed. Nathan’s voice is aching with heartbreak and verges on dismantling itself only to be brought back from the brink defiantly. The melody sounds like several other songs, but they happen to be very fine songs and I’m alright with that. As the song builds those guitars get a little fuzzy and a piano enhances the space with fluttery melodies. It all sounds like Tindersticks jamming with Low, simply superb.
Brad’s drums are noticeably more active in the medium paced ‘The Fire Lines’ which hasn’t the same sweetness as the track before it. Those drums become increasingly itchy at the end of the track, when perhaps a little restraint would have been better. ‘As Far As You’ zips along on a snappy beat, not too far away from The National. But again, I feel the drums dominate what is a tender and sorrowful song with some beautiful sweeping strings. It’s only when the song stretches out at the end that the strings rise in the mix making more sense. The final furlongs become more of a gallop and those pesky drums find their level.
‘Shore’ is a brief instrumental (with no drums!) with lush strings, acoustic guitar picking and piano. Nice but not particularly memorable. ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’ ebbs with calmness before a quirky key change that ups the tempo. Full of yearning and melancholy the tenderness brings you to a dark place before a cathartic release of distorted guitars and explosive drums. ‘So this Is How It Ends’ is almost instrumental until Nathan starts to sing channelling some Pablo Honey era Thom Yorke. It’s the most dynamic laden song on the album with a little more bite.
I found ‘Two Hearts’ a strange collision of wills, Nathan wants to sing it slowly but the drums are full of quick clicks and zippy snare taps and the guitars seem to be in a bit of a rush too. I find it a tad disorientating to be honest. Finally ‘Nothing Left’ is more appealing with a downbeat drum pattern that nestles appropriately with the elongated guitar lines and soothing strings. The guitars and strings are allowed to be the driving force and the melodies are sweeter and hookier because of it.
I’d really high hopes for this album based on how much ‘When You Were Here’ had grabbed my attention. It’s an exceptionally beautiful song. I wanted more songs in that particular vein but there’s sadly nothing else that has quite the same appeal to these ears. The album sounds lovely and has certainly been expertly created by extremely capable musicians. However, there’s some little nuances in the mix that I’ve tried to explain, that sully my feelings towards the album. It’s just a bit like opening your best Christmas present first and everything else after is a bit of a let-down. Having said that I have a feeling that if you were a fan of The Burning Paris first time round I daresay you’ll be thrilled for more recordings from the band.