Release Date: Jul 17, 2012
Record label: Mint Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
On their earliest recordings, Hot Panda built a signature sound out of their technical ineptitude, but now that they know what they're doing with their instruments, they've let humor and a sense of adventure take the place of their former lack of ability. Hot Panda's fourth album, 2012's Go Outside, opens with the noisy and chaotic "One in the Head, One in the Chest," which recalls their early days as scrappy aural pranksters, but the clouds of sound float by with assurance and the rhythms are steady and forceful -- this is noise pop from folks who know what they're doing, and on much of the album Hot Panda seem to be having a grand time seeing how far they can stretch themselves from this opening salvo. The playful "Maybe Now?" sounds like it could be a radio hit (well, maybe if it were a bit less cryptic) with its chiming guitars and upbeat percussion, the title song suggests some sort of goof on Dirty Projectors' off-kilter layers of sound (only with a bit of added smirk), "Littered Coins" sounds almost lush with its strings and Europop synth punctuations, and the cool pulse of "Future Markets" suggests an experiment to make an EDM record without drum machines or sequencers.
Vancouver-via-Edmonton indie rockers Hot Panda have always had a knack for making bouncy, hooky pop with a jerky, off-kilter edge and a slight smirk. On their third album, the first after a couple of lineup changes, they play things straighter, abandoning some (but only some) of their levity for lyrics that address economic failure and global conflict. That could've been a damaging move for such a lighthearted band, but for the most part the newfound earnestness is balanced by quirky arrangements and Chris Connelly's unpolished yelp reminiscent of Destroyer's Dan Bejar.
Vancouver’s pop/rock (with touches of electronica) quartet Hot Panda prides itself on its ability to blend genres with humour and free spirit. On their third LP, Go Outside, they ensure that each moment is filled with tons of energy and appealing sounds, as well as a refreshing coating of punk attitude. The presentation is more enjoyable than the actual songwriting, but it’s a very fun record nonetheless.
According to Hot Panda frontman Chris Connelly, the band’s third album, Go Outside, is “artful pop music, but played with a punk rock spirit.” It’s an apt description, and would be a perfect tweet-sized review. While the same could be said for their previous works, Go Outside represents considerable growth as a band for the Vancouver quartet. Connelly screeches lines like “Don’t hate the west” with a snarky, vintage punk fury on the visceral “One In the Head, One In the Chest” over fuzzed out guitars that complete the discordant delight.
The album cover is one for the ages, but apart from the penis-adorned artwork, there's nothing much to be shocked about on Go Outside. Hot Panda's third album isn't a huge departure from their last two, with cutesy punk spazz-outs going toe to toe with more sombre, menacing material. There's nothing quite crazy enough, however, to be truly exciting and the slower numbers offer little in the way of texture or atmosphere.