Review: Panda Riot – ‘Infinity Maps’
Posted: by Ryan Manns
I came across Panda Riot recently when I fell into a dream pop YouTube rabbit hole, and I’ve never been happier with YouTubes “related videos” algorithm. As much as I’d like to go on about their discography (and I could) their recent 2017 album Infinity Maps is what I’m reviewing. The first song I ever heard by Panda Riot was “Aphelion”, and it’s a big part of why I’ve fallen in love with this band.
“Aphelion” pulled me in with its catchy lyrics and almost beach pop sound. Its carefree feeling really helps to set up what I think is a beautiful ending. It’s a stream of styles that don’t inherently go together but certainly do come together.
“Ghosting” and “Chimera” are more great examples of this style I’ve fallen in love with. Surf the waves until Panda Riot pulls you up through the stratosphere in “Ghosting” and stay up there with “Chimera” a track of lofty, spacey, dreampop. “Double Dream” however is an entirely different story. Leaning into Panda Riot’s Rock influences this song sounds a little like something off an early Best Coast album. Take a listen.
Isn’t that cool? At the start of that track it even sounds like the Muensters started a rock band. I don’t get to say that very often. If you’re a fan of poetry set to music remember to check out “Arrows”. A return to the heady space vibe featured earlier on the record “Arrows” is in my opinion, one of the tracks to beat here.
The next two tracks “Parachute” and “Night Animation” signal yet another change in style from Panda Riot. Part EDM choppy vocals part Lo-fi Hip hop beat Panda Riot smashes non-traditional music forms once again. The record then slows down a bit with the next few tracks including the title track drifting back into the sort of lucid, dream, surf pop featured earlier on the album. It does however wake you back up with the Instrumental tracks “Aurora Shift” and “Glass Cathedrals”, Both of which are weird fun transitions to “Gold Lines” which sounds like an instrumental Metric wrote and Panda Riot added vocals to. The record ends “Otherside” a smooth shoegazey track filled with lots “ooo”s and “ooohh”.
Infinity Maps is a journey. They take a lot of risks and try out a ton of different styles, and many of them work. While it’s not maybe not quite the best record I’ve heard this year, it’s certainly the most interesting.
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