Dark and Inventive
Heavier and darker than his work in Slint during the late ‘80s, David Pajo’s Papa M project stems from the avant-garde math-rock genre, with some metal, electronica, and folk woven in.
Highway Songs is Papa M’s latest release on Drag City Records after a 12-year hiatus in creating solo music, and its message appears to convey that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that appears to take shape of his little girl.
After an attempted suicide by Pajo in early 2015, it’s clear why this “highway” Papa M is on is not a cheery one—in fact, it’s paved with demons, haunting pasts and maybe those twins from The Shining as the majority of the voices to be heard on Highway Songs are of disturbed children waiting to haunt your dreams.
Highway Songs begins on a heavy note with “Flatliners,” reminiscent of Misfits, with metal, bass heavy with wailing guitars at a slow pace. The album continues with “The Love Particle,” which sounds as though it came straight out of American Horror Story, featuring ratcheting, jumping, wavering, disconnected lines and the voices of haunting children whispering “I love you daddy.” “Adore a Jar” is a beautiful mixture of subtle dance beats and deliberate minor chords that moves the album forward in a lighter direction that is more pleasing to the ear. “Dvld” follows and soothes the soul with acoustic gentle intervals and “Coda” lives up to its name, acting as a glimpse of the light at the end of the dark tunnel in which Highway Songs began.
This new chapter of the album introduces the listener to Papa M’s lighter side. “Walking on Coronado” is significantly more upbeat, and is even reminiscent of Real Estate. “Green Holler” drives forward with galloping guitars and encounters a possible setback in “Bloom,” demonstrated by heavy metal picks and riffs, heading chromatically upwards to victory nonetheless. “Little Girl” is the sweetest way to end the journey of Highway Songs as Pajo shares his delicate raspy voice in this lovely, gentle ballad.
Highway Songs played as an incredibly symbolic work of David Pajo’s life occurrences, combining his influential experiences in Slint, Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and many more. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re a fan of post-rock works.