Hot Panda - Go Outside
- By Dan Alland -
- Jul 25, 2012
Canadian, poly-genre, indie kids, Hot Panda, are back with their third full length release, 'Go Outside'. After years of hard work and experimentation - playing with more sounds and styles on their first two releases 'Volcano, Bloody Volcano' and 'Why Am I Dead' than Brian Eno has done in his entire career – the band have finally decided to strip it down and grow up... the album's cover art sums this up in a particularly rude nutshell.
Because, Ladies and Gentleman – and please cover little Johnny's and Suzie's eyes for this bit – it is, as you can see for yourself above, a photograph of a young gentleman, completely naked, in mid-flight, having just jumped off of a diving board towards the water of an outdoor swimming pool. And it pains me to say this, folks, but – yes, your eyes haven't deceived you – his genitalia are on display. Quite shocking, I think you'd agree. Thankfully their approach to the craft of songwriting has taken slightly less of an exhibitionist approach.
They haven't stripped down to the same degree as their cover star. But their list of genre amalgamations does seem to have gone on a diet of some sort. Melodic, angular, lo fi and indie are the four pillars of the Panda's latest creation. “Still sounds like a pretty elaborate compound of noise nuggets” I hear you say. Yeah, but comparatively speaking, this panda has slimmed right down, and it's now ready to go forth and multiply; sharing its offspring with the mass market as a result.
The first single from the album - 'Future Markets' - opens like the electric doors to the starship enterprise, greeting the listener with science fiction style guitar modulations and a general sense of bemusement. Then a gorgeous bass lick teases us with its sparsity throughout the broken down verses, comparable in tone and delivery to one of Les Claypool's more placid and less precocious, Primus numbers.
The vocals on 'Littered Coins' start with an androgynous Mark E Smith intonation to it, which is outlandishly pleasing to the ear. So it comes as a great disappointment to hear it surreptitiously slip away after the first two phrases – along with image in our mind's eye of The Fall frontman making daisy chains and stroking cats with his girlfriends in the park. The instrumentation perpetuates with a lethargic Velvet Underground-esque acoustic guitar, adding the occasional glimmer of harp – like sunlight sporadically beaming through the window of a Velvets recording session, due to a drugged-up hanger-on playing with the blinds.
Going beyond the artwork and the general playfulness of the band's persona, there are some serious social and political statements being made on this record. The opening track 'One in the Head, One in the Chest' is a band wrestling with the troubling reality of warfare and urban gun use; and the aforementioned Future Markets is the band in a state of despair at the current global economic crises. So it's important not to judge a band like Hot Panda by their cover. They've decided to drop the wacky sensibilities that got them this far, and have instead gone big and brooding... I think you'd agree that takes bollocks.
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