the_paper-chaseJohn Congleton is clearly a disturbed individual. The man behind The Paper Chase famously uses his band to vent his spleen and expel the forces behind his apparently frequent panic attacks. This is why we've loved every minute of pretty much everything he's ever put out. The Paper Chase have always been twitchy. They're always comfortably bleak and appropriately tortured. Congleton's arrangements are almost always fragmented, to the point where they border on jazz work-outs. Unlike jazz work-outs though, he's always focused, always visceral, and inevitably The Paper Chase can be quite a daunting band to get to grips with. Congleton's mind laid bare, firing off guitar runs and pounding percussive punctuation is at times quite terrifying.Several albums in (six if you include the soundtrack they did) we find The Paper Chase exploring a wider world than one man's neurosis. Someday All This Could Be Yours (Part 1) addresses the destruction of the planet by various acts of God and, for good measure, each of the tracks are named, and then subtitled with an example of possible annihilation - 'The Comet', 'The Tornado', 'The Extinction' being typical examples. It's still terrifying stuff, but this time it's not just John Congleton's health we should be worried about, it's the entire planet's. So, The Paper Chase have declared that the END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH, and we should probably take notice, because they don't sound like the lunatic hollering on the corner to us.The funereal stomp of 'If Nobody Moves Nobody Will Get Hurt' introduces the album. Congleton announces "It's getting closer, it's right around the corner, something is coming for me" as the track builds towards a familiar feeling of paranoia via some wonderfully executed strings that are ironically filled with elation. As it closes with a pounding drum pattern that grows in volume and rapidity, the feeling of panic is passed on to the listener. This album may be about wider concerns, but now the feeling of stress and uncertainty is being communicated far better than it ever has before.In addition, this is about as close as The Paper Chase have allowed themselves to get to outright passages of pop melody. That's right, the band that thought nothing of chucking seemingly random bundles of notes into segues or pauses between vocal gasps have given way to something approaching a pop sensibility; albeit a particularly ferocious and skewed one.Check out 'The Common Cold' (Subtitled "The Epidemic") and there's a two-step stomp going down. It's like a clown demonstration in September - ultimately fun but with a sense of menace and a permeating stench of Lemsip.What sets this album apart from The Paper Chase's previous output (apart from the newly discovered sense of melody) is the space that is now being employed within the songs. Where once there was a rush of guitar or a sample, we now get Congleton's vocals wrestling with a percussion track and a sturdy bass line. There's still plenty of stabbing guitar, but now a four or five note motif seems to suffice whereas before there was a drawn out frill. The world has gone Math Rock, and Congleton responds by killing the world and writing on the blackboard in hulking great numbers "2+2 = 4. So What? Move on."Algorithms may have been left for dead but disturbing subject matter most certainly has not. 'The Laying on Of Hands The Speaking in Tongues' finds Congleton performing an exorcism. "I command you to leave this body" he repeats with a growing hysteria as the band explodes sonically around him. 'This Is A Rape' is as disturbing as it sounds. Comparing a flood to a sadistic sexual assault is a thorny concept, but the song is steeped in metaphor and inspired musical juxtapositions and expositions that make it one of the most inspired pieces on the album.'The Small of Your Back The Nape of Your Neck' takes the form of a modern nursery rhyme, bouncing along like something The Coral might come up with had they been locked up in the Outlook Hotel for the winter. It's more disturbing than that sounds, I can assure you. As it starts to boil over- the keyboard sounds like a kettle fit to explode - Congleton finishes things off with a quick chorus of "He's Got The Whole World in His Hands". You're left in no doubt that on this album, and in the world of The Paper Chase, God is pretty pissed off. He's omnipresent on this album and he's most definitely in vengeful mode.This should be the album that propels The Paper Chase towards a larger audience. It's the greatest thing they've done yet in terms of melody and concept. Let's just hope that God doesn't bring the world crashing down before we get to hear Volume 2. For now, The Paper Chase have the whole world in their hands.79%The Paper Chase on MySpace