Planes on Paper – The Ruins
The Ruins from Planes on Paper is the perfect follow up to their first EP. That first EP, The East End Session, is a concept work, a string of songs that take you on a wondrous and emotional journey, impeccably recorded in a live session in Yakima. The Ruins, conversely, was recorded in a studio with more instrumentation and a fuller sound, revealing even more about this emerging Northwest band.
The first track, “Monolithia,” lulls you in with a sort of false beauty—the easy, pretty melodies and harmonies glide over the song counter with tasteful slide guitar juxtaposed against the dark, pointed lyrics that ask if society has killed originality, art, and meaning within our lives. Musically it feels like the most approachable song on the EP, but, when you delve into the meaning, you find yourself questioning the very life you live.
“Iron Boat” then takes you to a darker place, one about a boy “who only loved what he destroyed.” The melody from Navid Eliot and the harmony from Jen Borst seem to meld together. Jen’s harmonies create an eerie layer underneath the first three quarters of the song and when it breaks open toward the end, her voice soars over the top, sending chills down my spine.
Undoubtedly, an overarching theme runs through the EP, one of disillusionment that questions how we—society, individuals, friends, love—got to where we are.
“These three songs seemed to be a theme of their own,” Eliot says. “In the spirit of making music for its own sake, we decided rather than risk muting the message by putting them in the middle of a 10-song album, we’d let them be their own record.”
The Ruins ends with its title track, a sad, nostalgic song that also carries themes of disillusionment and the realization that we are sometimes unaware of the consequences of our actions. It’s a great song, but losing the Cajon or adding a full drum set could have made it even better. Though the drum beat of the Cajon sets this second EP apart from the band’s first, which had no rhythm section, the beat gets a little repetitive from song to song and stifles some of the creativity. A variation of beats might have led to a more diverse sound across the EP as a whole.
Overall, The Ruins is a marvelous sophomore release for Planes on Paper, who will head into the studio very soon to begin work on their first full-length record.
(The Ruins will be released on January 1, 2015. Later this month you’ll be able to stream the title track right here on NadaMucho.com. Or bundle up and catch the band live at the Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival in Leavenworth on January 9-10. For more from Adrienne Pollock, check out her blog Reaching Notoriety.)