|CMJ - New Music Magazine | 1997|
Papas Fritas has aged quite a bit in the past two years. While the band's eponymous debut sounded like a basement tape sendup of mid-'60s bubblegum pop, Helioself has a lushness more remiscent of early '70s AM radio hits. Part of the difference in sound quality can be attributed to guitarist Tony Goddess' new home studio, located in a former Montessori school in Gloucester, MA. The rich overtones created by its high ceilings make the songs on Helioself come off more saccharine sweet than cardboard cute. The surfy guitar and falsetto harmonies of "We've Got All Night" and "Live By The Water" show the influence of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys; "Hey Hey You Say" suggests a bouncy Paul McCartney number from his early solo years. The members of Papas Fritas have also improved as instrumentalists. Goddess is now proficient at piano, and accentuates a Hammond organ or Rhodes keyboard in many of these arrangements. Shivka Asthana's drumming is more assured and less stiff. Even bassist Keith Gendel locks into the beat better. It's hardly surprising that on the last number, "Starting To Be It," Goddess takes a subtle pot shot at sloppy and raucous grunge bands"Losing my hearing by listening to last year"-because Papas Fritas' pop is getting more refined all the time.