Joe Younglove of Lincoln, NE wrote the following on Panda Face’s “Up in Space,” which Brandon shared with me. Consider it an invitation to revisit PFace’s second album as we close in on a year since its release!
Also, Strawberry Burns fans, stay tuned to the band for some great news – an inside source tells me a big announcement is near. -h
First off, the album cover artwork is fantastic. It’s all green and blue, with some red and white. It looks like a kid’s drawing, but it could have easily been done by Panda Face himself, aka Brandon McKenzie, also a member of local acts Strawberry Burns and Rock Rose. However, I think it says the “F word” on the cover, so it’s probably not a children’s drawing.
Either way, the art makes the album look quite fun, especially with the name Panda Face, and the album title, Up in Space.
The first song, “Always You,” is really good! I quite enjoy its wistful, spacey, and charming essence. The vibe switches gears with the foreboding third song, “Dreamgirl Nightmare.” However, it’s great to hear the continuation of fun space sounds established in the first two songs.
After song four, the bright delight “Fly Away To Your Destiny,” comes “Some Dark Roads,” the first real slow song straying from the established “Casio space organ” sounds. It’s pretty, but the subject matter is pretty grim, with Panda Face declaring that he himself “has been down some dark roads.”
“The Heart of a Lover” has a gothic-tinged, new wave sound. The guitar tone sounds like it’s coming from the tiniest amp, perhaps a toy amp.
“Something Good” features great synth swells in the background, and “That Buzzzz” reminds me of a Ween song, but I’m not sure which one right yet.
At the end, there’s the SSX remix of “Fly Away To Your Destiny.” I don’t know who SSX is, but he sure did a great job “beefing up” the song, and incorporating a more exciting beat.
I sensed a contrast or combo of bright and dark throughout Up in Space, akin to the style of eels or Sparklehorse. The songs sound mostly electronic, but it’s a more vintage electronic sound, as opposed to the highly-polished, pristine and sometimes soulless sound.
I don’t know where the album was recorded, but it seems like a bedroom or basement recording. It’s certainly not your “big-budget Aerosmith or Def Leppard” sound, but that’s OK with me.