Electro-pop, by its programmable nature, too often breezes into the world in a digitized rush of symmetrical beats and swooping synth lines. How much happier the ear is, however, when it hears a song that begins like “Coma” does, with its well-constructed intro, full of purpose and asymmetrical motifs. There are three basic sections—the opening, bass synthesizer section, a shorter section with a guitar, and then the last, longest section, with the deeper-sounding guitar that brings New Order clearly to mind. None of these sections is the same length. And within each one, the melody lines are strong but irregular—they hook your ear but without telegraphing where they are going, each, also, lasting different lengths of time.
This is a long-winded way of saying they had me at hello. When vocalist Max Decker opens his mouth and that haunted, slightly roughed-up, slightly reverbed tenor comes out, there’s no stopping this song. New Order, yes, is a big influence, but Papertwin emerges with its own take on that formidable sound. The combination of brisk, dance-club movement with precisely conceived instrumental lines is alluring, and the understated chorus—with a half-time melody that floats behind the beat—is both gorgeous and elusive. So elusive, in fact, that the band fiddles with it the second time through, so we only really hear it twice in the four-minute song. Another example of this song’s hidden good work is the new synth melody introduced in the song’s coda (3:05). Most songs are coasting by then. It’s a subtle touch that makes the subsequent return of melody lines from the introduction all the more satisfying.
“Coma” is one of two songs on Papertwin’s debut digital single, released last month, and both available as free downloads on the band’s Bandcamp page. Thanks to the band for letting me host the MP3 here.