Formally known as The Invisible Solid, three-piece power pop group The Paper Jets formed in 2005 out of a senior thesis project undertaken by guitarist/vocalist Brian E. and drummer/vocalist Frank Lettieri at Rider University. The original goal was to record a full album using only “consumer” equipment, and after a few years, they added bassist Scott Maloney, adopted their current name, and released their debut, Face Forward (2009). Their latest full-length, We Are All Strange Friends, sounds somewhat like a far cleaner and more impactful follow-up to that freshman release.
The first track on the album, “Cooking Up An Accident,” isn’t exactly a “new” song, having been packaged as a standalone single in 2012, but it opens up the record brilliantly. Smart lyrics, great vocal control, light distortion and beautifully clean sounds are what you can expect from herein set forth by the opening track. “Friends Of Friends” and “Set Of Rules” give you that classic power pop taste, and will entice anyone who falls victim to catchy lyrics and snappy riffs.
In true fashion of the band’s style, a curveball is thrown almost immediately with “Lena Lena,” a much more emotionally heavy song that shows how far they can reach, getting down to depths of almost-bitterness and despair with their music while still sounding bright, upbeat, and favorable to the ear. Likewise, the next song, “It’s Only Talk,” has a bass solo opening and a feeling like danger creeping up through the speakers. Brian’s voice does well to keep the diversity flowing fluidly, and keeps everything on track and organized where it would be in danger of falling apart in its somewhat wild diversity.
With “Getaway Car,” the band closes off the album with one last heart-touching, semi-acoustic piece that’s emotionally charged and ready to fire. To be fair, “power pop” may be a slight mislabeling of genres when you look at it as a whole, but this musically diverse group definitely hit the nail on the head when it came to making a terrifically entertaining record. A great summer soundtrack for 2014.