Panda Riot: She Dares All Things
Panda Riot

Merge the entrancing swoon of The Cocteau Twins with the angelic singing of Lush and the chainsaw guitars of My Bloody Valentine and Panda Riot's She Dares All Things might be the result. Don't be fooled though: strip away the axe-generated beehive drenching every song and you've got the sunniest pop this side of Morr Music. Formed in 2005 by aspiring film-makers Rebecca Scott and Brian Cook, Panda Riot pairs her soaring soprano with his churning guitar, bass, and drum machine roar. The album's more than a monochromatic shoegaze collection: “The Jesus Demeanor” is distinguished by the hint of hip-hop that animates its grungy wave of fuzz while “Plateau” shape-shifts between passages of woozy psychedelia and clear-eyed buoyancy before flaming out in an epic climax. The duo briefly turns down the amps on the celestial “Olivia on the Downbeat,” laying bare Panda Riot's folkier side (not to mention what sounds like a mellotron at song's end). The duo contends that “you don't need fancy equipment or tons of cash to create outstanding music” and truer words were never spoken. Accurate too is the album subtitle “a collection of singles recorded in our bedroom” as the songs are as concise and hook-laden as the best singles. “Suspense Kiss,” for example, rides the album out on a heavenly guitar wave that's so immense it well nigh buries the singing—until the closing seconds when the guitars recede and the vocals stand alone. Thirty-seven minutes never vanished so quickly.

February 2008