When we last checked in with urban troubadour Richard Papiercuts, he was leading his band through the ambitious pop of IF, his debut for Ever/Never. A major statement from an unknown artist, IF was ripping with drama and daring listeners into a twilight world rife with lust, life, and the many contradictions contained within such four-letter words. Now three years wiser, Papiercuts has shed some of the mystery to confront the camera dead-on. Twisting the Night is a glossier production, timeless while conjuring the flickering pop-surrealism of ‘80s music videos and the grandiose maximalism of Peter Gabriel, INXS, and Tears for Fears, but on a 20 hour studio time limit.
Over the course of TTN's four songs, Papiercuts and his crack band sculpt stately tableaus that hew toward the dark side of pop while avoiding cliches and sentimentality. 'There’s no correction, no distortion / in the way your voice cuts through the air': So begin the lyrics to opening cut 'A Place to Stay,' which serves as a re-introduction to Papiercuts’s sound-world, this time around avoiding obfuscation and willing to meet the listener halfway. 'Starless Summer Night', an epic, seven-minute centerpiece, is described by Papiercuts as a 'lucid nightmare' in the tradition of the Elevators and Tom Verlaine, but where apocalyptic dread mingles with the everyday anxieties of fatherhood. This is big pop music for big hearts and minds. But the hit on Twisting the Night is 'The Riddle,' a shimmering anthem that whorls about like a mirage, seducing the listener as it takes its time to get into its zone. 'World and Not World' closes out the EP with hints of Madchester poking through the rhythm ’n’ wooze. 'Turn it off,' Papiercuts pleads. But we’ve got a better idea: flip the record over and start the journey again.