Can't Go Back (Gnomonsong)

Rock journalism uses words such as "precious" and "twee" for bands like Papercuts. The San Francisco outfit -- basically, songwriter Jason Robert Quever and whomever he gathers around him -- specializes in naively tuneful and bittersweet psych-tinged folk-rock à la Belle & Sebastian, Donovan, and the Bee Gees (circa '66, that is). And while the 'cuts' tunes are indeed charming and really quite pretty (especially "Summer Long" and "Outside Looking In"), too many of them feel similar in mood (pensive, rain-down-the-windowpane sulking) and tempo (slow, sashaying, loping). Furthermore, Quever's unswervingly soft, reedy, I-was-a-teenage-Robyn-Hitchcock voice (minus the Hitch's smugness) wears thin by track eight or nine.

There exists a thin line between sustaining an album-length ambience and a one-trick pony, and unfortunately, Can't Go Back leans towards the latter.

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