Artist: Volcano! Album: Paperwork Release Date: 1st Sep 2008 Label: The Leaf Label Link: http://www.volcanoisaband.com/ It's almost unbelievable that Volcano! are just a three-piece. Their music is so busy, so changeable, that it sounds like the work of much larger groups; an Efterklang or an Arcade Fire, but more complex than either of those. There's a fresh roughness to their sound, a haphazard glee. The regular, often dull, rhythms of indie pop are fragmented, each instrument playing the same song but seeming always to be rushing, trying to catch up to the others. Even when they march to the same beat, growls of distortion, clicks, whistles and stacking, collapsing drum lines fill the songs to bursting. 'Africa Just Wants to Have Fun,' is the undoubted highlight. A mini-epic of soulful, but complex, verses giving way to a manic, party-time chorus that sprints breathlessly past with a wild grin and a stuck out tongue. Aaron With's lovely, sprightly vocals, like a more whimsical Thom Yorke, are used to full effect, creating little tunes and licks around the structural scribble of guitars and bass. Once the song closes on a nursery rhyme guitar riff you can almost imagine disadvantaged Ethiopian kids dancing around the band, full of hopes and dreams. It's a genuinely brilliant track. There are other excellent songs here too. In 'Fairy Tale' barely restrained balls of fizzing, spitting distortion punctuate a regular heartbeat of hard-nosed guitars. One soaring chorus, easily the equal of anything Elbow have put their name to, later and the elements resolve, the distorted waves now contributing to an explosive, rushing, ranting finale. The opening 'Performance Evaluation Shuffle,' is all choppy guitars building up amongst organs, rising into slabs of chaotic bombast that fight to free themselves from the speakers. 'Tension Loop' stumbles forward in skittering rhythms reminiscent of latter-day Radiohead, an impression helped by the introverted, vulnerable, and crystalline clear vocals, but it also shows up some of Paperwork's issues. With's vocals, as I say, are gorgeous. He possesses a Rufas Wainwright like ability and penchant for operatic virtuosity, his pitch leaping around all over certain songs. It's impressive, and when controlled it adds greatly to the music, but sometimes it breaks into self-indulgence, particularly when the instruments recede and leave the vocals to stand alone. 'Tension Loop' meanders after the fine first half, as overwrought, self-consciously emotive singing brings an unwelcome ego to the party. '78 Oil Crisis,' for the most part, adorns a quick-witted riff with clever, percussive vocals, but this, again, descends into Jeff Buckley posturing. Also, the rough, collapsible texture that the seeming haphazardness creates can, although it is interesting and different, be a ball and chain. It dominates large parts of the album, particularly on the first few listens, and the second-half can seem forgettable, the tracks reduced to stand out sections that break from the texture. 'Palimpsests' illustrates this best, with the now over familiar scribbled guitars and half-ranted vocals going along forgettably until a slab of bass is brought down through it. Straight away your wondering attention is brought back to the song, and it turns into a dynamic, moving entity, each part now useful rather than just being there. It closes on muted industrial noise, which only makes you wish they'd be more experimental more often. Paperwork, however, is most certainly a grower. Like a wild secret garden full of hidden treasures, the music reveals more adorable tunes, twee chirps, and rocking bombast with each listen, pleasures and complexities gleaming through the roiling texture. And the texture itself adds a lot too, offering Volcano! the space to pack their music with flourishes and fun. It's a great album, but if they can focus, and write more songs like 'Africa...,' there's an even better one in Volcano!'s future.