Release Date: Oct 8, 2013
Record label: Republic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
Tender Madness, the debut album by Darren Weiss and Danny Presant of Los Angeles’ PAPA, proves to be an ambitious expedition into both masculinity and romance. Much like the city in which the band is based, Tender Madness is raw, yet alluring; it is unapologetically punk, with a better work ethic. There is no façade found here, merely an honest portrayal of what it means to be a 21st century boy by a songwriter who bleeds authenticity.
The brainchild of ex-Girls drummer Darren Weiss and longtime friend/multi-instrumentalist Daniel Presant, L. A. -based Papa prefer to go big or go home, and their debut long-player, the appropriately titled Tender Madness, more or less backs that notion up with 12 emotionally charged slabs of Foster the People- and Killers-infused highway anthems, of both the fist-pumping and soul-searching varieties, that flirt with mainstream architecture yet retain enough of a ramshackle, post-slacker luster to appeal to fans of Weiss' previous outfit.
Tender Madness is an album in love with fiction. Not fiction as escape but fiction as investment, as an enlivening of human experience. There’s an emphasis on freedom of expression here, as well as a recognition of sentiment without diverting into too much cheesiness. PAPA’s sonic textures and lyrical content aren’t Brandon Flowers big.
A few months ago, one half of LA duo Papa, Darren Weiss, denounced the idea of being a rock star and said he’d rather be a librarian: “I believe in dedicating my life to being an artist,” he said. The former Girls drummer seems sincere, and his devotion to the cause is in every impassioned beat, Springsteen-inspired lyric and wild piano chord on ‘Tender Madness’’ standout tracks: ‘Put Me To Work’, ‘I Am The Lion King’ and ‘Young Rut’. Over the course of this debut album, however, the schtick begins to wear thin.
Some bands do being literate in, and about, America better than others: in one corner we have The National, Okkervil River and the King of writing about people and places in the USA, Bruce Springsteen. Those who don’t do it so well might be best summed up in two words: The Killers. Always aiming for the anthemic storytelling song, they’ve sometimes achieved but more often than not left us with middle-of-the road tunes with repetitive choruses that go on that little bit too long.