Highly anticipated 2009 album from Jason Quever's cosmic Dream-Pop project, their third album overall. Quever is a guest member of numerous bands including Vetiver, Beach House, and Skygreen Leopards, and the living room/recording studio wizard behind numerous others (Casiotone For the Painfully Alone, Cass McCombs, Donkeys, and more).
Review by Tim Sendra
Papercuts make the kind of albums that are easy to ignore or write off as simple and unchallenging indie pop. The smooth textures and gentle surfaces of the production, the breezy melodies of the songs, and the quiet sweetness of Jason Quever's vocals and lyrics don't overwhelm or stand up and demand attention; instead they kind of seep into the pleasure center of your brain if you want them to. The two albums previous to You Can Have What You Want were bright and sunny, but very calm and almost serene. This record isn't much different -- maybe a little more layered and gauzy at times, but still overflowing with pleasant melodies and nice sounds. Quever as always sings the lyrics as if in a dream, drifting over the rich arrangements with a light and feathery touch that brings to mind a collegiate and slightly shaky Colin Blunstone (or a less shaky early Neil Young.) He doesn't bowl you over with emotion but he conveys great feeling in his limited range, and on some of the songs, he comes close to breaking hearts with his boyish sincerity. Other times, he captures the ominous spookiness of the lyrics perfectly with his hushed and near conversational singing. Indeed the album seems to be a concept album about a possibly post-apocalyptic world full of suffering and weirdness, which is quite different from the previous album's subject matter. Quever keeps things pretty obscure and hinted at; he's not beating you over the head with any great statements. Again, he's letting the message sneak into your brain quietly and wrapping it in lovely arrangements that would sound good no matter what he was singing about. In that regard, Papercuts are very much like fellow low-key weirdos Grandaddy and Midlake. You Can Have What You Want falls a little short of the last record, Can't Go Back, just because it isn't as jaunty or light-hearted, but it is still an impressive work that should go a ways in providing some proof that the band has more depth and power than one might have thought if they just stuck to the surface.
A friend recently volunteered a capsule review of Papercuts' new album, You Can Have What You Want: "Catchy, but it'd be better if it wasn't so... muted. It's like the guy's singing through the wall." On one level, my friend's right. Jason Quever's one-man (plus guests) band makes blurred-edge music with damp organs, milky guitars, reverbed vocals, and sticky, half-familiar melodies seemingly snatched from some collective unconscious. And the album's opening couplet, "Once we walked in the sunlight/ Three years ago this July 4th", sums up Papercuts' temperamental pitch with tweet-like brevity. Their 2007 LP was titled Can't Go Back, but as a songwriter Quever can't help but indulge nostalgia, including its bitter constituents, regret and remorse.
Papercuts, however, aren't agoraphobic shut-ins exorcising romantic demons and venting life's inequities. A backward-- and inward—looking predilection actually serves the band artistically. Quever crafts his aesthetic from the raw materials of Zombies, Velvet Underground, and Galaxie 500 appreciation, Phil Spector worship, and an indie rock gospel that equates modest ambitions with really, really meaning it. And the Bay Area singer-songwriter has buffed this sound to a rose-colored finish playing in and touring with 60s-rock fetishists Vetiver and pop deconstructionists Beach House and Grizzly Bear-- folks who consider musicological context. So a shivering dirge like "Jet Plane" or the spacey ether-float of "A Peculiar Hallelujah" don't seem unduly muted. They're simply well-crafted examples of a certain introspective, highly melodic pop tradition.
Although YCHWYW doesn't offer a song as memorable as Can't Go Back's superb "John Brown", the tracklist's reasonably solid. First single "Future Primitive" is cool and minimal, pitting pulsed bass, throbbing toms, and biscuit-crisp snare hits and tambourines against Quaver's high, hazy croon. In the few moments before his voice enters the analog mix, you could almost imagine a smart-suited Smokey Robinson stepping up to the mic. Hypotensive organ droning opener "Once We Walked in the Sunlight" and a few other stretches drag, but punchier tracks like "A Dictator's Lament", with its infectious Paisley Underground chorus, and "The Void", which flips its slow-creeping intro for a psychedelic, honey-harmonied outro, redeem the record's narcoleptic drifts.
But then, warm bath and afternoon nap pop (or, as the "Future Primitive" video intimates, tunes for lone, swaddled journeys across post-apocalyptic landscapes), is what fans have come to expect from-- and love about-- Papercuts. If these songs are low-voltage wires that hum, buzz, whir, purr but rarely jolt, they yield just enough electricity to light the way forward.
— Amy Granzin, April 20, 2009