Review Summary: The soundtrack to waking up in a pool of your own blood.
What do you do after creating one of the most beautiful/weirdest albums ever put to wax? Generally, you have two options: Make an album that’s even more crazy/beautiful or give up entirely. So what did 90 Day Men choose to do after releasing To Everybody
They went ***ing overboard.
There is no band weirder or harder to describe to a non-listener than 90 Day Men. They started off as a post-hardcore/free jazz outfit paying homage to the likes of Unwound and Leonard Cohen. After releasing their first album they decided to add a keyboardist and expanded their sound into the regions of okay-seriously-what-the-***. Exploring themes of existentialism, fatalism, and Morrissey’s bitchiness To Everybody
was about speaking the truth through gibberish. Try to read the lyrics of any 90 Day Men song and you’ll have absolutely no idea what’s being said, but if you listen to the song and fully immerse yourself you’ll start to feel the lyrics and begin to understand where they’re coming from, and it’s the same with the music.
On Panda Park
the band furthers their sound even more by contracting it. While To Everybody
was about exploring as many themes and ideas as possible while maintaining a cohesive and coherent base Panda Park
goes for broke exploring a few themes to their breaking point. The band infuses their ever-expansive sound into a minimalist format and tinker with it until it collapses. Once again, Andy Lansangan’s keyboard takes control and lays down the groundwork so the rest of the band can explore the space around him. Vocalist Brian Case switches between soaring falsetto to haunting whisper on a dime creating a fascinating dynamic that creates a sound collage of depravity, loneliness, and fear.
Although Panda Park
features a number of wonderful tracks such as “Too Late or Too Dead” and the terrific closer “Night Birds” but they simply don’t bleed into each other and occupy the same body that To Everybody
did. It’s sad when a band that plays so well together can’t write songs that flow into each other the way the band does when they’ve done it so well in the past.