By Just Handshakes (We're British)
First of all, the 'Paper Cranes/Talking Pictures' release comes wrapped in a bow, with an accompanying origami leaflet entitled 'Make Your Own Paper Crane' which pretty much sums up the intimate, small-scale feel of Just Handshakes (We're British)'s double A side release.
A-side 'Paper Cranes' is chilled-out indie-pop embellished with plenty of chiming glockenspiel, which gives it a lullaby feel that perfectly complements the lyrical nods towards childhood (paper cranes, felt tip pens and Blue Peter.) Vocalist Clara does a decent job of turning out hesitant vocals with frequent high, trembling notes. However, her voice isn't quite light or airy enough to pull the ethereal sound off properly, and you'll suspect that Clara could really belt those lyrics out, if she wanted to.
'Paper Cranes' scores extra points for its tongue-in-cheek, off-kilter lyrics, especially the chorus with its repeated chant of "you will marry a nice man who looks like a Blue Peter presenter."
Second song 'Talking Picture' strips things down to the barebones for a verse that's basically just Clara's tentative vocals laid over carefully dolled-out drumbeats. Far from being plodding and boring, the verses have a blissed-out, almost Mediterranean twinge to them. You won't be able to stick this on in the background without it passing by in a blur but, given your full attention, the verses of 'Talking Picture' are a soothing listen.
Just Handshakes (We're British) balance this out with a fuller chorus of pulsing chords, stronger vocals and livelier drum-work. Here, 'Talking Picture' finally delivers some slightly more aggressive hooks, without jarring the listener out of the song's sublime mental fug.
'Paper Cranes/Talking Pictures' favours the subtle, pleasant sound over the crowd-pleasing hook. It may resemble backing music, but it requires more attention than your average song to properly appreciate its quirky lyrics and gentle charm. This release is unlikely to find a wider audience but, you suspect, sounding like this, Just Handshakes (We're British) aren't really too fussed about the wider audience. 'Paper Cranes/Talking Pictures' is the sound of a contemplative mood, caught on disc.