As one of the primary beat makers for Doomtree, Paper Tiger usually works behind the scenes and doesn’t necessarily get to shine the way Dessa or P.O.S. do. Following the release of an EP in 2007, his first full-length will hopefully get the attention he deserves.
Made Like Us is an interesting collection of atmospheres. The album begins as something of a down tempo instrumental hip hop project, walking the line between RJD2’s Deadringer and something you might hear on Ninjatune. There’s some R&B piano and vocals layered over some laid back funky beats in “The Bully Plank” that compel as they build on melodic motifs. These are all elements that indicate I’m going to like this album.
When you get to the song “The Painter’s Arm,” the album takes a turn in a different direction. The tempo slows down to a deliberate plodding beat, with keyboards, piano, and vocals from Maggie Morrison of Lookbook that turns toward a space rock 4AD kind of affair. It’s very melancholic and introspective. The somber mood continues on through the next song, as Morrison returns to provide vocals. Dessa steps up to the mic to pick up where Morrison left off with a rumination on dealing with personal challenges and relationships that feels like the perfect song to listen to in your bedroom on a rainy day.
Paper Tiger once again switches things up on the album, though, as we get to “5360,” and the atmospheric keyboards are laid over a beat that while still down tempo, gives us a taste of the hard-hitting staccato snares that are featured in his work with P.O.S.
These sonic elements unfold in the compositions in such a way that all these different elements come together over the next few tracks, making for an interesting and rewarding listening experience that rewards upon repeated listening. Just in case you thought you had Paper Tiger figured out, he brings in some Brazilian lounge music on the last track of the album. The real surprise to me, though, is just how well it works in the context of everything. Like most of this album, it might not blow you away on the first listen, but if you give it time, this album has a lot of rewarding subtleties to unpack.
|Title:||Paper Tiger - Made Like Us|