Paper Arms - The Smoke Will Clear (Cover Artwork)

Paper Arms

The Smoke Will Clear (2013)

Poison City Records

Three years on from their debut full-length Days Above Ground, Adelaide, South Australia's Paper Arms have returned with The Smoke Will Clear, and it has been well worth the wait. In the interim, vocalist/lyricist Josh Mann's marriage came to an end, and while he has stated that he didn't want to go straight in and write a negative and depressing record, no one could be expected to go through such a life-changing event without a few emotional scars. The influence is evident, and because of it The Smoke Will Clear is a heavy, emotional and cathartic record, both musically and lyrically.

For those unfamiliar with the band, they play a style of post-hardcore/punk rock/whatever you want to call it that is both heavy and melodic, accessible but not to the point it may turn others away. The dreaded "for fans of" sticker on the vinyl release calls for fans of Hot Water Music and Title Fight to take note, and while this may seem almost cliché by this stage, it is probably the most parsimonious explanation of what you are in for. Direct comparisons aren't entirely appropriate - but what genre bands emerging these days don't owe something to the ubiquitous influence of HWM, and share influences with Title Fight?

It's a relatively no-frills approach, but that's not to say the music is uninteresting – there's plenty of great guitar parts and some fantastic work from the rhythm section to be found on the record. The band aren't afraid to mix it up a little either, with the double shot of the slow and haunting "Drinking On Your Own" and its aggressive follow-up "These Nights" showcasing some of their strongest work.

The record treads familiar lyrical ground for the genre, with themes of drinking, loneliness, frustration and everything else that comes from such a dark time in your life prevalent throughout. Rays of hope shine through however, with soaring lines like "these are nights we'll hold onto" begging to be shouted along to while half drunk at a show. These moments abound, with the rough yet melodic voice of Mann offering up some huge vocal hooks and singalong opportunities.

More interesting and refined than its predecessor, The Smoke Will Clear comes highly recommended. Pick up the band's equally-great-if-not-better split with Nothington while you're at it.