By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Over the course of the past few years, The Blurries may have been the best-kept secret in town. Proficient in driving, catchy power-pop anthems — and among the tightest performers around, if not the flat-out tops in that category — the band has existed mostly under the radar. For a few reasons: Its members aren't particularly young, their gigs aren't particularly frequent and, well, there's the whole name thing.
For a while there, guitarist and lead vocalist Joey Shanks, bassist Andy Lester and drummer Bill Spellman went by the Slider Pines moniker — a name that, upon first glance, unfairly found the band pegged as some sort of alt-country band. Now, on the band's second full-length and first as The Blurries — now featuring an updated live lineup that also includes Young & Brave's Matt Shasteen on guitar and The Crash That Took Me's Kevin Howard on keys — that all seems a thing of the distant past. The only spillover evident on this 12-track release from the band's prior incarnation is the album's closer, "Pulling Teeth," which was also found on the band's 2008 EP. It's a fine inclusion with its cascading guitars, but it's among the slower cuts on this fast-paced collection.
For the most part, the band performs Paper Cuts at full throttle, capturing the nervous energy of The Replacements and bottling it in a Byrds aesthetic. The album doesn't get much better than it does on opening cut "Little Marie," with its start-stop chorus and showcasing of Shank's impressive upper-register timbre. But it doesn't get much worse, either, resulting in a cohesive album that compels for its entire 35-minute run time.
Took 'em a while, but The Blurries seem to have finally figured it all out.