It's hard writing about a band who's been around for a while that you're just hearing for the first time. Describing how they used to sound is crucial in ultimately describing how they sound now. Maybe it's not crucial, but it certainly makes the job a lot easier to have a point of reference through past records. All I know about the band is that they're on Southern, and Southern has some good fucking bands.
The best I can do in describing the band's CURRENT sound as a whole is post-rock with sporadic prog rock influences. The album starts off with their most obvious example of the latter's influence on their sound: a cheesy but charming piano line with a Jethro Tull-ish flute chiming in every once in a while. The vocals are moved to a very low priority in the mix, which seems like a good idea. These vocals could get on your nerves if they had a heavy precedence in any of the songs.
My favorite track is easily the single, "Too Late or Too Dead," or as I like to call "Godspeed You, Black Heart Procession!" It features meandering post-rockish guitars painting a nice ambient background for a piano that just cuts right through the thick atmosphere with the purpose and confidence of a soldier's funeral. The only shortcoming on the record by a longshot is "Silver and Snow," whose pathetic Ian Curtis-knockoff vocals provide for an almost embarrassing lesson. Thankfully it's short relative to the other tracks.
The best, and financially, the most annoying records are ones that will force me to sample and eventually purchase the band's back catalogs, and Panda Park is one of those records. I'm still convinced that Southern knows a good fucking band with potential when they hear one.
8.5 / 10
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