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Panda & Angel

Panda & Angel

(Jade Tree; US: 25 Jul 2006; UK: 31 Jul 2006)

Panda & Angel, a soft-core band from Seattle, don’t quite know what to do with their guitars on their self-titled debut EP. Alternating between hushed, intensely personal pop ballads and surprisingly biting distorted accompaniments, the band it often beautiful but only sometimes compelling. This not-quite-settled aesthetic is highlighted on “Dangerous”, which starts with echoing water effects building up a subtle guitar background and drum machine and transitions into a slow-core middle section that rumbles uncomfortably. When everything but Carrie Murphy’s lilting voice drops away, as in the opening of “China”, you remember why you thought this was a vehicle for melancholy beauty again—and wonder why the distortion’s even necessary. But opener “Mexico” is a gorgeous, lithe song, Murphy’s voice so soft and hushed it’s about to fade away (like PJ Harvey if she were totally unconcerned with whoever’s listening); and when it blossoms, unexpectedly, three minutes in to a full marching-band lament, with piccolo and horns, the range of the band approaches breathtaking status. “A Thousand Whispers” may hold a clue to the way the band can blossom: shudders of noise underline emotion, rather than substitute for it.

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Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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