The biggest mistake first-time listeners can make when picking up A Signed Piece of Paper for the first time is that the album is by Australian dance group Lace Curtain, curiously composed of ex-Total Control and Eddy Current Suppression Ring members and signed to DFA Records. How the former hasn’t been sued by the latter yet is a tale for another time, but Lace Curtains, plural, are certainly no synth-heavy Oz trio.
Frontman Michael Coomer, formerly of the disgustingly under-appreciated garage-pop band Harlem, took the breakup of his band in some kind of bizarre stride. Following 2012’s release of The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness playing under the name Lace Curtains, it became obvious (and a source of constant and bitter debate) that Coomer had taken the relatively easy way out of his band’s hiatus by writing subdued singer-songwriter tunes. Not much has changed between then and now, as A Signed Piece of Paper continues the flow of simple, sarcastic, smooth songs wrapped in chill-out instrumentation and a merely-mumbled vocal delivery.
The record presents as a sounding board for the different styles Coomer never had a chance to stretch during his tenure in Harlem. ’70s pop, disco, indie—Lace Curtains touches on each one, barely stopping for more than a track or two before becoming bored and moving on. There isn’t quite enough, beyond Coomer’s traditionally snarky lyrics, to keep one’s attention focused, so the sonic change-up throughout the nine-track record is appreciated.
Ultimately, A Signed Piece of Paper fails to impress for the same reasons that The Garden of Joy and the Well Of Loneliness did: Lace Curtains feels like a stepping stone for Michael Coomer and his sounding board for future projects. Fans of Harlem will be disappointed at the lack of bite in between verses, and newcomers to Coomer’s songwriting will feel stranded in between the merely quirky genre experiments. When (if?) Lace Curtains settle on a sound that resonates more strongly with themselves, they may come up with something every bit as captivating as Harlem’s farewell record Hippies. Until then, stick with the synth-heavy Oz trio.