July 10, 2012 - Limited Fanfare
Best known for his work as drummer for Dashboard Confessional, Mike Marsh delivers his first solo effort with Sunbeam, writing, recording and playing all the instruments himself (under the moniker Paper) and doing a damn fine job at it. Wearing his influences on his sleeve, flavors of the Beach Boys sit alongside those of Ben Folds, Pink Floyd, Eels and ELO, and he proves himself adept at writing both big, straightforward hooks and more unconventional melodies that insinuate their way into the listener’s semiconscious.
The resulting blend of classic pop and something more progressively minded wields a somewhat timeless feeling, and Marsh has worked hard to ensure that this does not slip into mere throwback territory by injecting a freshness and vigor into most of the tracks. At the same time, he does not limit himself to any one specific style or song structure, and the shuffling, moody tones of “Regard” make sense alongside the triumphant, stomping radio rock of “Heart Of Ours,” the gorgeous sunshine pop of “Golden” or the twitchy, nervous “Water And Wire.” Marsh turns in consistently strong vocal performances, too, wrapping himself up in twisting, spiraling melodies and demonstrating an impressive range without showing it off.
With such a strong showing, it begs the question whether Marsh will remain behind Dashboard Confessional’s drumkit much longer (though this will of course depend on the exposure Sunbeam receives). These 11 tracks do deserve attention, and fans of indie and classic pop will find plenty to fall in love with. Regardless of his commitment to his “day job,” there will likely be many champing at the bit to hear more music from Paper.