Paper the Operator - Solemn Boyz (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Paper the Operator

Solemn Boyz (2008)

Viper Bite

I miss the Stereo. No Traffic and Rewind+Record are both really great rock records, chock full of solid hooks and infectious melodies. Their breakup bummed me out, and Jamie Woolford's newer project Let Go didn't do a whole lot to ease my pain. But without really looking, I've found an excellent alternative in Paper the Operator and their Solemn Boyz EP, a six-song collection big on what I just described.

The title track kicks things off and despite its questionable title is an enjoyable slab of pop-rock, with some solid soloing to sell the song's hook and a catchy chorus. Jon Sebastian's vocal approach is usually smooth, but commanding when the moment calls for it. "The Heart's Hardest Part" is the most Stereo-esque of these songs, containing a certain bounciness and flair that many of Woolford's best songs possessed. There's a guitar solo here that's brief and a little ridiculous, but it's not bad or overly distracting.

Paper the Operator reel back the guitars a bit in "Divorce Court," a quick two-minute tune that's rooted more in power-pop than the first two tracks. There's another solid hook here, and the vocal harmonies are really strong. "Salty & Sweet" is one hell of a song, sunny instrumentation dominating the first half with acoustic strumming, some well-placed handclaps and another strong vocal performance from Sebastian.

"Words You Never Learned" is a more downbeat, mid-tempo track with a heavy bassline that works well within the scope of the song. Sebastian takes a little off the top of his vocals here but still commands the majority of the attention. There's some riffing and noise in the song's last half that sounds a bit out of place, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Solemn Boyz closes with "All That I Baked," a short slice of pop that harbors many of the same characteristics described above -- a strong, identifiable hook, some well-placed vocal harmonies, etc. Not much else I can say, really.

This is an awesome little EP. The execution and musicianship are top-notch, and it's refreshing to hear a band still playing music like this. Hopefully, a full-length is in the cards for Paper the Operator.