Papercuts is the moniker of San Francisco singer/songwriter/producer Jason Quever. On Life Among the Savages, Quever’s dreamy mixture of baroque pop, storytelling lyrics, and detailed production work is at its most potent. Having spent nearly 2 years whittling the record down to the essentials, Life Among the Savages is the most concise and lucid of the 5 Papercuts releases. Recorded mostly in his SF home studio, Quever’s haunting melodies soar over strings, garagey guitar hooks, piano and mellotron, all held together by energetic bass and drums that never rely on a cliched beat. While there are echoes of bands like Spiritualized and the Zombies in the mood and ambitious orchestration of tracks such as the “Life Among The Savages” title track (which contains an arrangement contribution from Beach Houses’ Alex Scally), and echoes of dream pop such as the hypnotic “Staring At the Bright Lights”, the sound here is undeniably Quever’s all his own. And while the record is a lovely example of the production that he has also become known for, it’s the songwriting itself that shines the brightest here.
Life Among the Savages is an eclectic, fun yet undeniably melancholy trip full of songs about city life, alienation, playing in bands, and smoking banana peels. Ultimately it’s the story of a couple of tumultuous years of a songwriter’s life transformed into melodies that are hard to forget.