The super sounds of vintage AM (before it became a den of deviants, news readers, preachers and conspiracy theorists) were always a staple sound in every family trip we took from Mexico City to Tampico. Not only was the music always soothing enough to feel pop, but it always had this extra bite, whether a dash of blues, a side of rock, a slice of funk or even a faint smell of prog, there was always something magical about those sounds that got distorted everytime we passed under a powerline.
Woodpigeon‘s For Paolo EP is an emulation of those sounds, a homage to the sounds of old tapes for family trips, whether through the rocky, treacherous mountain ranges and steep drops, or the expansive, unforgiving deserts of Utah. ‘For Paolo’ starts as a very fluffy, almost harmless song. It’s the sandman-like properties of the song what really give it the gravitas to open the album. It’s digestible but it’s the starter, not the main course.
You do get a rich selection of tracks and one that’s very rich and stylish is ‘Are you there, God? It’s me, Mark’. Strings waltz you along and a dual vocal, a male voice full of longing and a spiritual female voice, make it a chamber pop remembrance. Then the distortion kicks in. Heavily but not saturating you. It is a cold bucket of water to your face.
It might be the only shocking moment, though, and maybe it’s for the best. Some of us have a weak ticker. ‘Winnebago’ is “blink and you miss it”, but very heartfelt and goes rather well with ‘By lamplight’, which relies heavily on a Leslie effect (or what sounds like it – love it) that makes it a trippy, psychedelic flower pop track.
Just when the ride was getting fun and the scenic landscape was capturing your attention, the travel ends. ‘One to many’ is the swansong before the tape goes black and the hiss is the only song emanating for the stereo. But then an extra track comes and it’s an acoustic (more like stripped down) version of ‘For Paolo’. Intimate and a good bookending. Just like the way you’ll arrange the photos on the family photo album.