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Faded Paper Figures: 'North By North'

Southern California trio Faded Paper Figures.
Southern California trio Faded Paper Figures.

Southern California-based Faded Paper Figures wears its inspirations on its sleeve. On its MySpace page, bands such as The Postal Service and Stars are listed as major influences – a fact that's easy to hear on the electro-pop trio's inspired debut, Dynamo.

The similarities begin with the album's opening track, "North by North," which pairs lead singer John Williams and backing vocalist Heather Alden in an affectionate duet, while accompanied by a drum machine and programmed keyboards. If the song's perfect balance of upbeat and soothing electronics is comfortingly familiar to you, you're probably a fan of The Postal Service. Or perhaps you've heard the work of the band's programmer, Kael Alden on a recent commercial for a line of Lexus automobiles. Either way, that tone figures heavily in the rest of the album, with the exception of the ballad "Red State," which closes Dynamo with gentle strums of a guitar and quiet electronic twinkles.

Lyrically, Faded Paper Figures' narratives are often perplexing. "He won't know Adorno / He's an adult with an adcult / You can buy your way into his head," sings Williams on the "The Persuaded." In case you missed it, that's a references to German philosopher Theodor W. Adorno and the dangers of advertising (the band offers an explanation on its Web site). Sonically, Faded Paper Figures isn't serving up anything particularly groundbreaking on its debut, but it is clever, intriguing at times, and even beautiful.

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Tamara Vallejos