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Panda Band - This Vital Chapter Review

by Scott F.

Hearing the name The Panda Band instantly brings to mind freak-folkers Animal Collective, and really it's not that far off base. The Panda Band never explodes or dissipates into chaos, but This Vital Chapter, their debut, is chock full of those same type of pop reinventions. The album pushes 40 minutes, and each is a joy in its own right. The most striking thing about This Vital Chapter is the orchestration. The songs are filled to the brim with xylophones, jingle bells, horns, and guitars. The songs reach staggering heights and peter out to twinkling ends fading into the next track.

"Eyelashes" is a song bursting at the seams with pop sensibilities, alternately anthemic and downbeat in the best possible way. "Lovely Shoulders" is the short centerpiece of the album, drenched in the catchiest melodies this side of the Shins. The almost whispered vocals drift over the bass and drum polka beat in a comforting way that's near impossible to describe. "We've Got the Face of the Earth" floats along switching from male to female vocals and building up momentum over a soft piano line as an ambient keyboard vibrates softly underneath.

It takes about half the length of This Vital Chapter to realize just what an excellent disc it really is. The songs fly by and demand replay after replay. The Panda Band know how to leave the listener wanting more. The Perth natives have already gained much acclaim in their home country, and there is no doubt that the rest of the world won't be far behind in recognizing their talents. For a young band with so much potential, the bar has been set high for the future.

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