Thursday, 18 December 2008

Album Review - Her Space Holiday - XOXO Panda and The New Kid Revival - Noize Makes Enemies

Visually, Marc Bianchi, aka XOXO Panda looks like a cross between Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, with the tattooed torso of Travis Barker. Originally hailing from the bands Indian Summer and Mohinder, this paradoxical and somewhat unexpected appearance is undoubtedly a direct consequence of Bianchi’s background in hardcore music.

Clearly an innate courage for change, Her Space Holiday’s new album is a clear progression from previous work. Tracks from ‘Telescope’, the bands 2006 release, demonstrate Bianchi’s lyrical capability but are musically somewhat easier to apply to a genre or compare to bands such as The Postal Service.

However, whilst his latest album has the same acoustic theme and warming lyrics, there is something quite traditional or older sounding about the thirteen tracks, particularly musically on “No More Good Ideas”. Whether it’s the optimism and upbeat tone to the music – something which is seemingly becoming less commonplace in modern music, or whether it’s due to the harmonies and impossible-to-pigeon-hole sound; either way it’s inarguably refreshing.

There’s an aurora of maturity and reflection on experience that is inevitable with a singer/songwriter who has been in the music industry for as long as Bianchi. But rather than a patronising and irrelevant slant after twelve years of making music, the consequences on tracks like “Year in Review” and “The World Will Deem Us Dangerous” are lyrics that demand attention and seem to effortlessly soothe any potential personal dissatisfaction by persuading it into a broader perspective.

Lyrics such as “Hold your breath and count to three, if you know the words then sing with me” make the album at times feel not unlike a campfire session for fans of alternative music. Yet, at the end of a year that has heard numerous musicians complain about the attributes of fame and at times demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the support their fans show – Bianchi’s positivity and his audacity to bungee jump from one genre to another, at times creating new ones altogether, would appear a breath of fresh air.

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