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PopCrush Presents: Paperwhite

Lauren Kallen, Getty Images
Lauren Kallen

Every week at PopCrush, we’re putting the spotlight on one up-and-coming act you need to know about. Why? So you can get on board early before everyone else and their mother jumps on the bandwagon…and so you can be that one friend in the group who’s always like, “Um, actually, I prefer their earlier work.”

Motown may have torn The Jacksons apart, and The Jonas Brothers couldn’t keep it together through the release of V. But sister and brother Katie and Ben Marshall — better known as Paperwhite — seem immune to disharmony.

The Brooklyn-based duo, who grew up pursuing music independently of each other (Ben was in bands, Katie was more the singer-songwriter type), first came together in 2013, when Ben noticed Katie’s innate knack for penning dreamy hooks. Within a year, Paperwhite had released debut EP Magic, caught the attention of local writers with its eponymous single and earned the title of Hype Machine’s most blogged-about act — twice.

Now, upon the release of their newest track, “Unstoppable,” the synthpop duo seem to have their routine down to a science: Katie writes, and Ben, who’s also a drummer in Savior Adore, maps out production and chord progressions. If the siblings’ expanding body of work is any indication, a new EP — due out this spring — could help them achieve true pop-liftoff.

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Paperwhite, who’ve been likened to acts that range from Aphex Twin to The Postal Service (and with selective hints of Regina Spektor), pair light-as-a-feather synth with dramatic drum elements befitting of an ’80s anthem. A handful of their songs could serve as a soundtrack to an unwritten John Hughes feature, a tone most evident on tracks like the buoyant “Take Me Back” or the jittery “Pieces.”

Still, with the release of “Get Away” in November, Katie and Ben dismissed any notion that they could be confused for a niche gimmick, and offered sophisticated, unmistakably modern pop. “Make me an offer / One heart for true love / Cards on the table / Are you ready for this one?” Katie croons on the song before a completely silencing, shout-it-from-the-mountains chorus kicks in — it’s a compact bit of euphoria they say is natural to their creative processes.

“While dreaming up what Paperwhite means to us, we found that a desire for adventure and surrealism feel very at home in our world,” they told Billboard.

Take a listen to “Get Away” and “Unstoppable” above, and be sure to download Paperwhite’s EP, Magic, on iTunes.

Who would you like to see featured in PopCrush Presents next? Tweet us at @popcrush with your recommendations using #PopCrushPresents!

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