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Album Review: Paper Wings by Henrietta

Florida alt rock act Henrietta release their sophomore album Paper Wings on 29th April via Animal Style Records. It does more than just pick up from where 2014’s The Trick Is Not Minding left off; this time around it feels more ambitious and assured. While their debut was formidable, this iteration of Henrietta sound like the complete package, Paper Wings is the band at their very best.

Within Paper Wings Henrietta tread that thin line between indie alt rock and emo, Colin Czerwinski’s guitar playing is again one of the main highlights, creating an intricate basis while Manny Urdaneta’s vocal and lyrics manage to create both a wonderful sunny and light atmosphere whilst taking some bleak turns. It’s particularly evident on the title track where Czerwinski creates an almost whimsically happy texture before Urdaneta’s vocal creates a dark shadow simply due to its tone, regardless of content.  It’s not the most immediate of tracks, yet after two or three listens it’ll become one of the album’s standout tracks.

‘Departures’ has a similar feel yet manages to be a lot more instantaneous. There’s a big call to arms style chorus that suckers you in while the guitars carry more punch. Urdaneta vocal style lends itself to an emo style and while Henrietta’s sound may not be 100 miles removed from the traditional emo structure they both complement each other perfectly at the same time as pushing the band onto the next level. On first listen you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘Arrows’ plods along without much gusto, that is until you realise it’s more a case that the sound is a perfect fit for Henrietta. The relaxed tempo allows Czerwinski to experiment and create a textured guitar sound. As such it’s another track that grows on you; coming from inauspicious beginnings it engrains itself as a masterclass in refined yet expansive American alt rock.

‘In the Backyard’ again has the contrast of sunny guitar bursts and bright drumming over what becomes a rather bleak Uraneta vocal. What starts of luminous turns dark “When I go,” he sings as the song climbs toward its desolate conclusion, “just bury me in the backyard / let the dirt hit my body / and I hope I’ll be happy / by then”.  ‘Opposite Ways’ shows Henrietta shining mixing a shiny exterior with their new vigour for expansiveness before the delicate album closer ‘Few Friends’ ramps up that expansive sound. The intricate plucked guitars are wrought with emotion, nevermind the dark lyrics “Just make sure the noose on my rope / won’t give out. / It won’t fail me now.” It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

Paper Wings is Henrietta at their very best. Ambitious and commanding, Paper Wings breathes fresh air into American alt rock. Essential listening.

AD Rating 8.5/10

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