BEJEWELLED GARAGE LAMENTS
PAPER LIPS – “The Sound Of Sound” (Dangerhouse / Skylab / Mono-Tone DSL 066) June 2022
Every so often I buy a record and I’m immediately transfixed and can’t stop playing the damn thing. For days I think about the sounds I’m hearing and wonder if it’s just a passing phase and soon I’ll be back to playing The Byrds or Love or some other joyful mid-sixties West Coast genius 45.
I can now say with certainty that Mike Whittaker‘s solo album under the moniker of Paper Lips is a stunning and most beautiful achievement.
Each and every play heightens my senses to the point where I’m dizzy with excitement and oblivious that my cats are looking at me, demanding to be fed.
All of the numbers are self-penned, apart from an exquisite cover version of “Splash 1”, originally recorded by the legendary 13th Floor Elevators.
Mike spent his Covid-19 Lockdown months wisely creating his magical collection of songs, then mixing them in house at ‘Paper Studios’ – which is probably the spare room in his house.
These atmospheric garage laments are inspired and reveal a very talented and perhaps ardent devotee of the long-forgotten loner blasts of the mid-sixties New England teen-scene. That’s the kind of vibe I’m getting from “The Sound Of Sound” LP, mixed with a little bit of early Velvet Underground, the number “Better Run” could be the best song Lou Reed never wrote. There are also hints of mid-eighties guitar jangle bands, in particular The Sea Urchins.
The indolent, echoed, almost lazy vocals cascade over his slow-paced resplendent songs, backed by the ever-present sweet guitar tones of the vintage instruments he uses such as a 1967 Vox Cheetah, a 1965 Harmony Bobkat and an Epiphone Revelation 12 string.
The only occasion Mike gets a tad restless and wrathful is during “Feeling Fine”, memorable for the often repeated line “the fucked-up world” and a magical thirty-odd second guitar break that will leave you gasping in awe.
The album closer “Flight” is a hypnotic instrumental and perfectly concludes this quite brilliant record. Only 300 copies have been pressed and are available at the Paper Lips bandcamp site. Don’t miss out.