On The List :: Faded Paper Figures @ Elbo Room [8.2.10]

At stage right in San Francisco's Elbo Room is a screen playing loops of found footage and bits of abstract animation. They range from what looks like meditations on mitotic cell divisions all the way to Cold War-era air raid videos and images of exploding atomic weaponry. These are the visual choices of the electronic pop band, Faded Paper Figures, standing in front of them. So, the stakes were metaphorically molecular, and with an excellent new record, New Medium, the band could be forgiven for the ambition to melt our cells and vaporize our cities.

Appropriately, Faded Paper Figures opened with "Invent It All Again," a strutting and shimmering anthem of cutesy boy-girl pop. Their guitarist is wearing a Mates of State t-shirt, an ode to a straight-faced methodology, an unencumbered enthusiasm or even a shared telomere between the two bands (both feature a married couple based in Connecticut). They prove as innocent as they appear, talking about the superpowers they've decided they could have and making light fun of the beat poetry scene that San Francisco has all but forgotten.

Midway through their set the band plays "North By North," perhaps their best song if judged by crowd reaction. It is a warm corner of the Postal Service universe, with acoustic guitar foundations underneath a hushed electronic sound scape. Two songs later they play another favorite, "Logos" off their first LP. The band struggles with the sound, as their delicate, layered arrangements clash with a small club's limitations. They are affable, if not totally pleased.

It ends up not being a matter of life and death. Faded Paper Figures walk off to warm applause and we all divide and separate.

[Stream and download two tracks from New Medium below]

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