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Paper Islands’ second album showcases distinctive electro-indie sound

The Palo Alto High School musical duo, Paper Islands, plans to release its second extended play album entitled “Polygon Tides EP” at 8 p.m. today.

Seniors Fabo Garduño and Sally Wang formed Paper Islands last spring, and have since produced a debut EP album entitled “The Striped Sea EP” and performed at several live events, including Teen Arts Council Open Mic events and Angelicas, a Redwood City dining and entertainment venue. The duo has gained a fan base both inside the Paly community and out, attracting listeners with its electro-indie sound. Paper Islands’ Facebook fanpage has gained more than 400 followers, and several of its songs on Soundcloud, an online audio distribution platform, have reached nearly 2,000 plays. “Polygon Tides EP” features four tracks: “∆”, “Tetra”, “Lønely” and “Okay.”

According to the duo, “Polygon Tides EP” has been in the works since October 2014. The duo released “Tetra” as a single in late April after an extended Facebook publicity campaign using statuses, teaser videos and distorted artwork.

In creating “Polygon Tides EP,” Paper Islands does not fall short of its high expectations, with innovative electric sounds featured in every track. Each track on the album stands out on its individual merits, but combined together they create an impressive, cohesive style. The overall flow of the tracks provides an interesting blend of electronic music and indie music, giving the songs and style distinct character.

The album begins with “∆,” a minute-and-a-half-long track that features a blend of natural sounds like breathing and water, as well as electric melodies. The track opens the album in an eerie-yet-powerful way, and effectively entices the listener to delve into the rest of the album. 

Following “∆” is “Tetra,” a single that reached more than 450 listens on Soundcloud. Of all the tracks on the album, “Tetra” features the most impressive lyrics. The words, delivered with a powerful rhythm and melody, tell the story of a love “smashed in the ground.” Wang’s vocals blend with a wide variety of synthetic sounds to create a memorable tune that will undoubtedly leave fans humming for several days.

“Lønely” is perhaps the most vocally impressive track on the album. The song opens with a soft acoustic guitar, which continues underneath Wang’s powerful voice. The track questions what it really means to support another person, asking, “If I turn into the sea, will you be there with me?” Wang’s vocal tonality beautifully conveys a captivating message of longing and sadness.

The name of the final track, “Okay,” does not justly describe the song, because it is perhaps the most novel and interesting song on the EP. “Okay” opens with a fusion of ambient noises, including indistinguishable voices and what sounds like a game of pool, which then proceeds into heavy electronic beats and sounds with sad vocals about a relationship that is not in fact “okay.” This track showcases both strong vocals and instrumental melodies most effectively out of all of the songs on the album, with all elements coalescing to express the melancholic quality of the song. The track ends with the sound of a thunderstorm.

According to Garduño, “Polygon Tides EP” will provide fans of the band with a recognizable yet original collection of songs.

“I think people can expect a familiar sound that they’ve heard from our past stuff, with a new twist on it,” Garduño said. “We like all of the geometric patterns, so that’s where ‘Polygons’ came from. ‘Tides’ was because we still really like the ocean.”

The album does indeed feature several water motifs, keeping in line with the group’s oceanic themes. “∆” emphasizes the sound of running water, “Lønely” uses lyrics about the sea to allude to a broader message of being lost, and the sound of dripping water can be heard on “Okay.”

The album artwork for "Polygon Tides EP" features geometric distortion set against a forest backdrop. Artwork courtesy of Paper Islands.
The album artwork for “Polygon Tides EP” features geometric distortion set against a forest backdrop. Artwork courtesy of Paper Islands.

The album will be available for download on Paper Islands’ bandcamp, with a set-your-own price policy, allowing fans to donate to the group. Paper Islands may make its songs available to the public through Spotify, although these plans are uncertain, according to Garduño.

Following the release of their second EP, Garduño and Wang also plan to release a music video for a song off the new album. Senior Jack Brook collaborated with Paper Islands to produce the video, which premiered at Teen Arts Council’s Luminescence Film Festival on April 17.

“The goal is to release the music video shortly after the EP, so people are more comfortable with the song that’s in the music video,” Wang said.

The duo also plans to throw an EP release party in the near future, but the exact date and time are yet to be determined. According to Garduño, the event may be co-produced by the Teen Arts Council, but many difficulties, specifically regarding location, have arisen in planning the event.

“It’s in the works, and we are going to have a lot of cool surprises,” Garduño said. “It will probably be our last show, and we just want to wrap it up and say thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way.”

To download the album, visit the Paper Islands’ bandcamp. To keep up-to-date with news and announcements from Paper Islands check out its  FacebookSoundcloud and Youtube.

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