Los Angeles band PAPA makes presentations of the fragile minds and hearts of men who can't help but feel scorched. They're the kinds of characters who are living paycheck to paycheck and wobbly day to wobbly day. They are spent, but they aren't exhausted. They are still impressed with the capacity that they have to take on the stress of love and living and still be able to lift their arms and forks to nourish themselves. Could mean food. Could mean smokes. Could just mean replenishing all of the water they've lost in various ways. They are richer and poorer for all of it. They win some and they lose a lot more, but just like a big league baseball player, all you have to do is recognize that if you hit safely three times out of ten and you're an all-star, a Hall of Famer and making $10 million a year.
The few times, when good things happen, it's the most uplifting and affirming thing that could ever come to them. Oddly, it's just as affirming and uplifting when everything goes into the crapper. There's a weird and invigorating spirit to those mishaps and those catastrophes.
Singer and drummer Darren Weiss writes these shaggy dog songs that remind us of crashing through the ice of what we thought was a pond frozen over. It's that feeling of horror, fear and still something like full-bodied electricity. It's that feeling that - for the first time in forever - you know for certain that you're all there, every part of you, inside and out, is accounted for. You're in a bad spot, but you know as soon as you get inside and get toweled off, put on a new sweater and pants, you're going to feel better than you have in weeks and that still takes into account that something shitty happened to you that you hadn't intended on having happen.
PAPA songs are full of hazy heads, where there are lies mingling, where there are sentiments working. They are asking more from their fires. They are asking for something to keep them steady, not just warm and there's no way to know if that will ever happen.
*Essay originally published May, 2012
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