Paws - Youth Culture Forever (3 stars)

Paws - Youth Culture Forever

The lo-fi rock trio's second album is the work of a band starting to sound like themselves

Another of Brightonian indie FatCat’s ever-growing stable of Scottish artists, PAWS are poised amid the potential of previous label success Frightened Rabbit (unqualified success, we’d say) and the likes of the Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks (critical darlings, if not commercial triumphs). Their second album doesn’t exactly give away which direction they might jump from here, because it’s avowedly lo-fi even as it echoes with the chime of a handful of pop choruses which are decidedly hard to resist. Most importantly, it seems to be the work of a group who are having a good shot at being themselves.

Drawn from across Scotland – respectively, the Highlands, Edinburgh and Glasgow – Phillip Taylor, Josh Swinney and (recent recruit and sometime List writer) Ryan Drever forge a particularly Caledonian-flavoured kind of indie rock, with their sonorous opener ‘Erreur Humaine’ sounding not a million miles from the fuzzy, grunge-influenced tones of early Teenage Fanclub and the wonderful ‘Tongues’ driving the album to a peak early, adding a glam stomp with its effervescent ‘do you think that we could have tried a little harder’ chorus. The battering, sweary ‘Someone New’ is another attention-grabbing high.

The tone (if not the pace) remains similar throughout, striding through the poppy nihilism of ‘Give Up’, the dirgy, reverb-heavy balladry of ‘Alone’ and the Fannies-style power-pop of ‘An Honest Romance’ (key lyric: ‘do you know how long it takes to get from Scotland to Dalston?’). There’s a great riff on ‘Let’s All Let Go’ and an unexpected turn into stylishly recorded-in-a-bathroom (or that’s what it sounds like) maudlinisms on ‘YCF’, and if at times it sounds like the band are repeating themselves musically or allowing their lyrics to float by without quite snaring the attention as they could, it’s at least pleasing to note that they sound like they have room to grow as a band. They’ve certainly delivered an album which is as lively as it is memorable.

Out Mon 2 Jun via FatCat.


Upcoming outfit influenced by lo-fi US guitar rock from the 90s.

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