When you listen to an album, enjoy it and think about how much music is out there but how it feels like not enough of it sounds like this, you know that the artist is doing something right. Initially I think about the sound of The Paper Sea as being something along the lines of post rock, such as you might hear on the Deep Elm label. But the more you listen to these songs and dive deeper into "Shadow Falls" the more you will begin to hear The Paper Sea take on a sound all its own. While I could also use genre tags like neo-classical, The Paper Sea really just doesn't land in any specific genre but rather floats around through various ones.
The first aspect of this instrumental music you will notice is the piano. About 90% of this album is based around pianos and those keys. I wouldn't really call it sad, but it has a somber, serious tone to it while at the same time it just moves. There are tones almost like sirens on "Starling Ballet", but the overall vibe of the album seems to be one of calming and peace. Because of the music itself but also the mood which it produces I think of The Paper Sea in a similar way to that of The Cancer Conspiracy, and both are create sounds which are great for either taking a bath or just swimming around in the pool.
Atmospheric levels and big synth beats set the mood on the titular track while I begin to think about Blue October. "Tivoli" is a fun carnival ride with the accordion sound-- it just makes you feel like you're going in circles on the carousel but also just the overall soundscape of being at such a place. "Whisper Willows" brings out the percussion and by the time I hit the halfway point or so during this album I am reminded of Phantoms vs. Fire, which is one of the only modern artists I can really compare this with (and that speaks volumes)
With sad strings and strums there is that orchestra feel to this album as well- that it is larger than any one person or space. There are also only a few moments where I feel like I don't hear those piano keys. "The Eyelid Cinema" ends with the sound of a movie projector which seems fitting. "Fern Dell Fireworks" has this rhythm and trumpets which make it feel like a mariachi song. I am reminded of the time I took a trip to San Antonio and saw a mariachi band playing "Hotel California"-- it's the same kind of vibes.
What I love most about "Shadow Falls" is that you can tell throughout these songs that The Paper Sea is creating a story. And whether you choose to lay around and relax- such as in water- or listen to this while driving or otherwise moving is entirely up to you. Music is often either thought of as being fast paced or slow, that it either moves or doesn't, but this seems to be an album that breaks those parameters and is able to move with you and bend to how you see fit. Not many albums are this accommodating to your ears so please give this one your full attention.