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the pAper chAse - Someday This Could All Be Yours, vol. 1

No search party came
so my nails grew and sharpened
they kicked at my cane
it was like I never happened
who will look after me
when I'm cursed just like a Kennedy?

The opening lyrics to If Nobody Moves Nobody Will Get Hurt (the Extinction), the opener to the pAper chAse's Someday This Could All Be Yours, vol. 1 (killrockstars), sung by John Congleton as a cellar door or coffin lid is raised, and continues to creak ominously through the track.

I might have to overuse the word ominous now, and get it out of the way. It's the catchword for the entire precession of disasters across Someday... Hell, it's downright perilous. The entire album threatens to fall out of your speakers and start causing the devastation so opulently and eloquently described by each track.

Good luck, godspeed, goddamn you all Congleton belts at the end of the second track, I'm Going to Heaven With or Without You (the Forest Fire), before ending with one of the only moments of silence on the record. And then, with just a quick three drum hits, rolls bounding into The Common Cold (the Epidemic), where a cold caught in Mexico (...) becomes the ambivalent villain of the piece.

So won't you drink after me
I've been a good boy
I'm squeaky-clean

A few minutes later, and Congleton lays The Laying of Hands The Speaking in Tongues (the Mass Hysteria) over piano and acoustic guitar (and a faint gasping noise) before the drums and not-cowbell come in as he commands you to leave this body before he or the crash of bass and rapid fiddle kick the shit out of you.

Then the busy-signal, dial-tone, literally off-the-hook percussion kicks in, as Your Money or Your Life (the Comet) hits the atmosphere and we're reminded that no one's going to save you. If you find this kind of sentiment more life-affirming than nihilistic, welcome to my world. The truth of death in the face of any of these dilemas coming to pass evens the playing field, marking the stark contrast of the absurdities of modern life. Congleton manages to make all this destruction make sense, reminding us at every turn of our nature as tubes with holes at the ending, or, on What Should We Do With Your Body? (the Lightning), the rotting meat forming vast fleshy landfills, which become an astounding view for the lightning bolt. The Lightning then turns almost contemplative over all of the beautiful bodies, acoustic guitar and lovely strings coming in to close out the track and then inevitably fail as well.

This is a Rape (the Flood) wants to be alone, but he can't be alone. So instead, he'll be content to have everything. He just wants to be cool, what the fuck, whatever. If you can't hold your breath, just breathe in deep and accept the synth flood and maybe he'll go home with you.

But then The Small of Your Back The Nape of Your Neck (the Blizzard) don't know what's coming, because only god knows how cold it's getting, and Congleton's sudden and random acts of mayhem turn he's got the whole world in his hands into a giant, blistering, faltering, frenzied Fuck-You, lapsing into the air-raid sirens of This Is Only A Test (the Tornado);

No pie-graphs or charts to speak of
No slogans for the repeating
No silver bullet was shot
No hand over heart
No X marks the spot
No catchphrase for stars a feignin'
No big letter write-in campaign
No fanfare fills up the room
No interviews, no big ka-boom

The Tornado asks again that you take your demise into your own hands, maybe the only control you could pretend to have, the only option to be excercised before We Have Ways To Make You Talk (the Human Condition) closes this first installment, and Someday This Could All Be Yours just doesn't sound like a pleasant curse. Why not go towards the light, we're all doomed, indeed.

John Congleton is the ring-leader here, his wail and whine inescapable across the 48 minutes of vol. 1, with vol. 2 promised in early 2010. Obsessed with making every clashing bit of orchestration turn into simultaneously tight and ramshackle earworms that will have proponents gladly belting out their own certain demise with anthemic glee, a trick the pAper chAse has built upon since their very first work, even presaging Someday... on 2000's Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know's closer, When (and If) the Big One Hits... I'll Just Meet You There, which could be subtitled (the Earthquake) and reprised on vol. 2 if the slight re-working that has been appearing in their live set lately got the studio treatment.

But he can't go it alone, and the band and the album are better for it. Sean Kirkpatrick's keys and b.g. vox couldn't be left out, nor could Bobby Weaver and Jason Garner's staggering (in all senses of the word) rhythm section (bass and drums, respectively). Everything here works the way it's supposed to, full of despair and fail, and, eventually, hope.


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