Best of 2010 Errata: New Medium

So not to have an attitude about it or anything, but I didn’t really come upon anything on the multitude of 2010 lists that struck me as a huge oversight. That’s not to say that everyone’s lists looked like my own, far from it, in fact, but only that I didn’t see any of the really popular stuff that I’d missed completely, or had heard of and ignored.

That said, there was one 2010 review that I just never got around to writing, and I figured an errata entry a decent way to make amends (they also snagged spot 13 on best albums of the year, which is nothing to sneeze at).

Faded Paper Figures’ New Medium was actually a really great listen. Their previous album, Dynamo, had been my jam for most of the summer. Their current effort, with its bright synth and smooth vocals, got me through my first cold winter in Boston.

The sound has matured a little; so much of Dynamo was a feel-good record, so it’s nice to here the tone get a little darker in places. ‘Limelight’ as well as ‘When the Book Ends’ are welcome departures in this sense. Even still, FPF still knows how to play to their strengths with immanently danceable tracks like ‘Small Talk

      Small Talk - Faded Paper Figures

It is to this record’s credit that virtually every song is as listenable as the next; there are no especially dull spots, making for a rock-solid 40 minutes of listening. The price you pay here, however, is that there aren’t really any stand-out tracks that leave the others in the dust. ‘Small Talk’ and the opening track ‘Invent Them All Again’ have a little bounce to them, but the only real exception to this, and in my opinion the gem of the album, is ‘Kodachrome Earth’.

      Kodachrome Earth - Faded Paper Figures

Aside from the fact that it’s the only song I’ve ever heard to make an honest lyrical stab at including the phrase “tesla coil”, the tune has this fantastic refrain combining a great musical idea and really beautiful lyrics to match:

We thought the whole world would begin
to finally see that it’s round round round
a tiny blue gem in the darkness gliding
(round round round)
borders and refugees barely surviving
(round round round)
civilizations and temperatures rising
(round round round)
Are we like gods or confused by the lightning?

The imagery of planet Earth as both ‘tiny’ and ‘gliding’ was really pretty to me, and the other lines say a lot in just a few words. The final track, the namesake of the album (which is almost unheard of placement, to my knowledge), is also a really solid anchor, which was the principal fault of New Medium‘s predecessor.

I was really pleased with how this album turned out. It sheds the dead weight of FPF’s debut, branches out from the band’s standard MO, all the while remaining exquisitely pleasant to listen to. Due to the new sound, these tracks likely won’t get snapped up for episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (Dynamo had three, count them, three!), but that’s alright. The band is still producing quality music that’s as gentle and insightful as it is fun, which is a rare niche to have filled.

Faded Paper Figures – New Medium