You Can Have What You Want

The primary plaything of Bay Area singer/multi-instrumentalist Jason Quever, Papercuts is one of those fringe-dwelling rock acts that doesn't get too far out on the margins. Meaning You Can Have What You Want abounds with vaguely familiar-sounding, well-structured songs, but the auteur doesn't want to be blatantly obvious with his songcraft. To this end, Papercuts subsumes his lightly reverbed voice beneath swelling, whorling keyboards and warm bass daubs. It's a bedroom-bound introvert's idea of arena pop: all yearning vocals, expansive arrangements, and fraught atmospheres, but it will never open for Coldplay or U2 at [insert name of massive outdoor venue with douchebag security force in an American exurb]. Thankfully.

Beach House's Alex Scally contributed his arranging acumen to You Can Have What You Want, and you can hear some of that band's sundown grandeur creeping into Papercuts' compositions. Fans of Grizzly Bear will also snuggle up to Quever's wonderstruck melodies and quavering, little-boy-lost vocal approach. The song "A Peculiar Hallelujah" stands out among the 10 here, both for its exquisitely lovely tune and for its title, which captures the disc's spirit. You can sense Quever striving for elation, but he's too pragmatic and/or innately subdued to go for full-on exultation in his songs; he won't be writing the 21st-century analogue to the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" at this rate.

And that's cool. We need songsmiths who tap into a satisfying downhearted vein, even as they pen chord progressions that struggle to launch you skyward. You Can Have What You Want's title also summarizes the pervasive mood here: It's a matter-of-fact observation that initially seems loaded with pleasure, but on reflection it stirs a mild sense of unease; Quever's glum delivery of the line in the title track confirms the latter sentiment. Papercuts puts a beautiful mope-pop gloss on ambivalence. recommended