The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: Gold Panda – ‘Good Luck And Do Your Best’ (City Slang)

gold_panda_good_luck_and_do_your_bestby John Tindale

It seems strange for a musician to build an entire concept about something a taxi driver said in passing – but that is exactly what eccentric London producer, Gold Panda, did upon the release of third original record Good Luck And Try Your Best. The meeting with the unknown taxi driver came during a trip that Panda took to Japan with the photographer Laura Lewis in a bid to gather atmospheric visuals and sound for a project that had yet to gain shape. Instead, we now have a full album based fully on the experiences that were shared during the stay.

The album is enthralling from the off; ‘Metal Bird’ contains Holly Herndon-styled broken samples with hints of industrial Japan and an overriding sense of warmth and intimacy as electronics swirl. The track features the only distinct lyric on the album (“bird”) which works wonderfully to create a semi-hypnotic texture as the rest of song unfurls around it, in the same way that ‘Brazil’ did on 2013’s Half Of Where You Live. ‘In My Car’ follows with relaxing synths and an Indian edge to the Japanese styling. The hip-hop edge is one which comes to the forefront to be combined with a chopped incomprehensible vocal that immediately captivates.

Good Luck… is a distinctly clever record which comes somewhere in between the two previous efforts from Gold Panda, in the calming Lucky Shiner and the frantic dance of Half Of Where You Live, and retains the same sleepy, jet-lagged travelogue ambience of both of them. There is a perfect blend to the tracklisting; the house-tinged ‘Chiba Nights’ is contrasted by the calming Balearic infused dance of ‘Pink And Green’, with chimes and an outright summery feel that wouldn’t go amiss at any festival in the sunset.

The album delights in its confidence to dictate emotions, the hints of melancholy during tribute to Phil Wells, ‘Song For A Dead Friend’, work excellently with frantic drums to create a more rounded sound which can show the vulnerability and the panic that comes from the death of someone close. Meanwhile, the crackles of ‘Autumn Fall’ work wonders as layer builds on layer, with hints of Caribou in the percussion patterns to boot.

There are still moments that can, at minimum, get the head nodding; ‘Time Eater’ is a great example of how strings and drum programming can create bliss with the addition of chimes creating an extra bit of excellence when put on top of popping beats. The album closes in style with ‘Your Good Times Are Just Beginning’ – the song works excellently after following the beat-less ‘Unthank’ (which uses synths to create a downbeat sound) as dubstep is referenced in the Benga-like bass before being added to by pianos and triumphant trumpets.

Good Luck And Try Your Best may have the most basic of beginnings but in typical Gold Panda style the music here is anything but simple, the record constantly evolves and reveals new aspects that make it not only a calming listen at first, but a rewarding one on repetition as the Londoner releases a thoroughly unique sound in 2016. (8/10)

Listen to Good Luck And Do Your Best here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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