Melbourne band The Paradise Motel has been described as a cross between UK acts like Portishead and The Cocteau Twins, and the soundtrack to American television miniseries Twin Peaks. Other comparisons thrown the band's way included Nico, Mazzy Star and The Cowboy Junkies. Add to that the band's existentialist lyrical angst and the members' penchant for wearing neat suits and ties, and it all added up to an arty, shimmering tableau.
Whatever the case, The Paradise Motel managed to polarise critical opinions as to the worth of its dramatic, haunting, minor key soundscapes. Some declared Paradise Motel to be the most interesting new band of 1996, others found them insufferably pretentious and solemn. The CD EP/10-inch vinyl EP Left Over Life to Kill on the Infectious label contained a number of melancholy pieces like `German Girl', `Ashes' and `North of God'. Left Over Life to Kill spent over 20 weeks on the local alternative chart after peaking at #2. Bickford reworked (looped, scratched, respliced, reconfigured) and remixed two tracks (`German Girl' and `Jack Star') from Left Over Life to Kill for release as the band's second CD EP, Some Deaths Take Forever, with four new tracks added. Some Deaths Take Forever came in a pressing of 2000 copies.
The Paradise Motel supported Tex Perkins on a national tour throughout September. The band's debut, full-length album Still Life produced the CD single `Bad Light' (October 1996) and the CD EP (Please Keep Me Safe) (March 1997). (Please Keep Me Safe) included the album track `Calling You', plus five new songs recorded in February. Still Life -initially came packaged with a limited edition CD EP, Junk Mail, comprising 32 minutes of album outtakes.
The Paradise Motel issued its second album, Flight Paths, in April 1998, preceded by the CD single, �Heavy Weather� (February). That same month, �Calling You� came out as a CD single in the UK. The second CD single lifted from the album was �Derwent River Star� (June). The band toured Australia with UK band Stereolab in January 1998, and then headed off for UK tours with Grandaddy (March) and Sparklehouse (July), the second of which included a slot on the bill of the prestigious Reading Festival.
By that stage, the band had followed up interest in the UK by relocating there permanently. Flight Paths came out in the UK during September, whereupon the New Music Express (NME) described it as �a deliciously unsettling proposition�. The first CD single from the album for the UK market was �Hollywood Landmines�. The band�s touring commitments for 1998 also included shows in the US (like the North-By-North West Festival and CMJ in New York). Then it was back touring the UK with US band Mercury Rev in early 1999.
The Paradise Motel issued a new CD single in March 1999; a reinterpretation of The Cars� 1984 hit �Drive�. The band saw out 1999 with the release of the new album, Reworkings (October), a collection of covers and curios reworked by the likes of Sonic Youth�s Lee Renaldo (�Lee�s Trees�), Mogwai (�Drive�), Mark Eitzel (�Cities�) and Echoboy (the fuzzy, heavy trance of �Derwent River Star�).