My first taste of Melbourne’s The Paper Kites was quite the experience. It was early January of this year and I came across their track, “Electric Indigo,” on Spotify. I was reeled in immediately with its lush intro and how just the opening chords felt like a massive wave of comfort I had been yearning for as it washed away a never-ending feeling of homesickness for a place I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Once I got my hands on a copy of twelvefour – a collection of songs written between the hours of twelve and four AM – I knew I had found a safe place to hide and daydream for forty-five minutes while singer Sam Bentley sang our mirroring truths out loud.
There’s an extraordinary synchronicity to discovering albums long after their release date. It’s kind of like time knew exactly when you’d be ready for it, choosing ever so carefully to make its grand entrance into your life. It’s instances like these that I start to realize that maybe I’m not a lost cause after all and through all I’ve endured over the past year, serendipity still does exist. Though released last August, twelvefour continues to prove the band is only getting started. It’s usually not cool for a music writer to share an album review of an 11 month-old record, but I just decided we’re cooler than those snobs anyway so it all works out. 😉
As “Electric Indigo” makes its way into your bloodstream, you can almost taste the longing on Bentley’s lips, despite how the woman he’s writing about seems to have been hurt. “Cause you’ve got something that I need / Something I can’t find” – a line I’ve whispered to someone not that long ago while being met with a chilling silence that sent me into tears on a New York street on a cold first day of spring. But lately I’ve been learning that “time is just a remedy covered in disguise.” There’s no denying the pull once the bridge of, “All I know is that I want you so / Heavy on my mind and the feeling grows,” rolls in, making my long list of almost loves feel like a game of patience tests as I sit here and wonder why love always seems to escape me. I’d give anything to experience this song for the first time all over again.
“Renegade” feels like a post-personal war anthem as we’re given a snapshot of who we once were versus who we have become due to a painful event. The chorus, “Cause I’m a part of the world I live in now / Only set apart from the world I live in now / Ghost of a renegade,” divides us into two people yet there’s no denying the work we need to do to move past whatever it is that broke us.
Once “Bleed Confusion” comes in, it’s time for the tissues. I don’t know how Sam writes every thought even I as a writer could never express properly, but it works and it’s eloquent. The chorus brings me to a current situation where someone unexpected came into my life yet I’m still not sure what to make of them. “I’m not like you, but I’m a lot like you / And still you make me bleed confusion right through.” My personal blog is called A Sober Head Full Of Confusion so this one feels extra special to me. “I often wonder how men spoke before they could speak, using only their hands and their eyes / And what would I say if I could speak with you that way?” worries me as I’m afraid what I’d do once the wrong words I seemingly spew out weren’t worth a thing and my true intentions were felt rather than heard.
The second I saw the video for “Revelator Eyes,” I’m pretty sure my face turned into the starry-eyed emoji. If that doesn’t scream Date Goals, nothing does! “You can say what you want, but I’m giving it a chance” – a line so crucial to love these days as we’re always second-guessing ourselves wondering if we’re making good choices. This track feels like a safety blanket I can go to whenever I feel like I might not be worthy of anything remotely romantic and crazy as I live vicariously through the lives of the couple in the video.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t walk around NYC with “Neon Crimson” on repeat. In a city so vast, it’s easy to feel minuscule in comparison to all of the faces and buildings that pass by. Though I have an issue with belonging, it’s the confessions of other introverted New Yorkers I relate to the most and the line of, “Never did I see such an ugly confession sprung from my lips and met with open arms,” means so much when you’ve lived most of your life with your entire body tangled in knots at every possible moment so the mere thought of having someone actually understand you is quite miraculous. I still wonder where I fit in here. “Lost sight in the streets of Manhattan…” “Never had I felt more alone in the big lights…” “And all the buildings were hiding my view of where I’m from and what I want. A “shot of neon crimson to the brain” indeed.
If I enjoyed bars of any kind, I’m sure “I’m Lying To You Cause I’m Lost” would be in constant rotation on the jukebox. They have those in bars, right? “I’ll be anything that you want except what you want me to be” is such a bold line yet we fail to speak those truths to those who question a creative life of any kind. For years, I’ve been put on the spot, asked when I’m going to pursue a “real job” but what I failed to realize is that once we tense up and lie about where we want to go in life to appease those who will never understand, we lose a piece of ourselves, our hopes and our drive in the process thinking we will never accomplish all we want. It’s all attainable no matter how lost we may be.
“A Silent Cause” brings us through a moment in time for two adorably awkward individuals who just don’t know how to express themselves out loud, yet are so eloquent when pointing out what’s plaguing them about life…if that makes sense. It’s the beginning of a relationship that may not be as the other person is moving away, facing the loss of their family home. As the chorus of, “I don’t want to love you, I want to learn you…but I’d love to know you well,” is sung softly by Bentley, a rather unknown feeling of being content washes over me as love is merely an option and not the be all end all for once. Unspoken desperation slowly comes creeping back in though; the infamous silent cause sent to wreak havoc on your heart as Bentley sings, “I thought that I was different when you looked at me but this quiet desperation is killing me too.” It’s killing me too.
I was drawn to “Woke Up From A Dream” merely by its title but I had no idea it was going to express everything I’ve been through within the past six years perfectly while being reminiscent of a Ryan Adams or The War On Drugs track. “Well there’s a stranger that I keep in my room…” It always starts that way. “Something’s happening to me, my love / Like I woke up from a dream only to find that I still hadn’t woke up,” makes me wonder if that’s what happened to me; was I in a six year slumber? Once you know it was an illusion, you find anything in your power to keep it around. “I can’t tell you it’s right when it’s wrong,” – and that’s the sad part; it’s just wrong…and all you’re left with is emptiness and sweet love gone.
Clearly the band knows how to tug on the heartstrings of the brokenhearted by lining up the next two tracks after that last one! “Turns Within Me, Turns Without Me” is the after-effect of “Woke Up From A Dream” – the one you sort through once you’ve realized it was all an illusion yet there’s still a piece of your heart left within that dream. “Oh lover, I’m still a stranger to you / So when you think about your mother, could you say that any other loved you that long?” What bothers me about that line is that he never knew and once we’re brought into the chorus, wanting to “waste a little time” with the one thing we’ll never get to hold, we realize that life turns within us and turns without us no matter how we hold ourselves back from feeling it all at once. “Oh dreamer, I’ve got to let some of you be” – a line of letting go; possibly unwillingly but do we really have a choice? This is the track I find myself lying on the floor sobbing to as I realize what I got myself into. You gotta love music, though.
Where do I begin with closing track, “Too Late?” Boasting with lust as it touches on the magnetic forces between two people, it also displays the notion of closing yourself off to love after being put through hell. The chemistry is there and they both know they want it yet it still won’t work. This is what we have to tell ourselves to shield off the pain. “You’re always in my head / Searing your thoughts into my skin / But this still won’t work, no.” Perhaps a fiery ending to “Electric Indigo?” The urgency is so palpable it’s hard not to get caught up in all its six-minute glory. “No love, you have come too late.” But that begs the question. What if maybe it’s not too late? What if it’s all perfectly on time? Just as this album found me at the right time? How will we ever know if it is too late?
And yet again, here we are – blindly walking through life hoping this time we can make it right. I hear they say that nothing good happens after midnight but I beg to differ.
twelvefour is available now here.