Panda Riot “Northern Automatic Music” (Saint Marie 2013)
These Philly-born, Chicago-based shoegazers started out writing soundtracks to homemade films and there are cinematic elements (particularly on instrumentals “Golden Age” and “Encrypted Wilderness”) that add a nostalgic touch to their swirling pop tunes. Rebecca Scott’s forlorn vocals float aimlessly above the peppy dance tunes that invite favourable comparisons with Lush and The Heart Throbs and the wall-of-sound backing fills in the spaces between the words like a lemon meringue straightjacket.
Another plus is the band’s ability to write catchy melodies that don’t get lost in the enveloping arrangements. Unlike some bands that sacrifice tunes for the sake of that ear splitting sonic rush, Panda Riot take the time to deliver musical accompaniments that invite the listener to pull up a chair, sit back, and listen to a carefully constructed pop tune unfold around them.
The title track, “Black Pyramids”, and “MTWM Glass” are favourites, but each track has its own rewards and the disk (vinyl is available from Vinyl Junkie in Japan) benefits from repeated listens to uncover hidden nuances that may have escaped your attention the first time around.
Review made by Jeff Penczak/2013
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