Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review #72: Pandora - Melancholic Freedom (2010)


Year: 2010
Genre: Punk Rock
Post-Punk, Hardcore, Grunge
Xochipilli Records
46 Minutes (Long)
My Rating:

Once in awhile, you come across a group that's pretty special. Pandora is a Belgian rock band that formed around 2006. The group fuses hardcore punk, grunge, and some other style that I'm not even sure what it is together to create their own sound. It's pretty cool. They released their first EP sometime in 2008, and when I first heard it, I could tell this band had a lot of tricks left up its sleeve. Well, after that, in late '09, they released a single called "Breed My Dye", which was basically a sort of demonstration of what was to come when they finally did their first album. When they were about to release it, they did this thing from January 1st up to January 15th when it finally came out -- they let you hear a track of the new record each day (just about). That was pretty nice. Well, the album is pretty diverse. In a sense, you could say it has nearly every Pandora song in one album, except for maybe "Fall" and a few one-offs that I've heard snippets of in videos of their live shows. But it has three of the four songs from 'Breed My Dye', re-recorded versions of the songs from 'Shoot Me I'll Pay You', a song that was on a compilation, and some great new ones as well. What are these songs like, though? Let's review the damn album and find out!

1. Rock N' Roll
This one was originally from the OX Fanzine Compilation #86. What I love about this one is how the melody is pretty upbeat and happy-sounding, but the vocals are very aggressive and snotty. It's pretty fast. It delivers what the title promises. I imagine it would sound pretty cool if played acoustically, actually.

2. Sophisticated Attitude
Another fast one. This one's all-new, though! I guess it's about someone with a sophisticated attitude. I don't even know the lyrics to this song, so I don't entirely know what any of these songs are about. But that's okay, 'cause then I just get to make up my own stupid meanings for the songs. But if you are the band and reading this, you should post the lyrics to these songs somewhere. It would be pretty cool.

3. Breed My Dye
This is the one they made the music video for. And it was released as a single months before this album even came out. So a lot of Pandora fans know about this one. I guess it actually got mildly popular where the band is from when it first came out. That's pretty cool. The song showcases the band's more downbeat, twangy style. It starts out cold and calm as Annika sings "You Breed My Dye". And I don't even quite know what that means. But that's alright. The song picks up a little bit starting with the drums, and then the guitar gets more loud and fuzzed-out in the chorus part. After the second chorus, there's an outro section, which I consider the best part. There's a solo in that part and it's also the part in the music video where everybody starts puking up that goopy stuff. The tempo for this one is a lot slower than the first two songs.

4. Like a Pissed Flower in Spring
Now before I even talk about the song, I think I'm understanding why this flower's pretty pissed. Okay, put yourself in that flower's shoes. Think about... it's real cold outside. A lot of snow (just like today, dammit)... you're taking a nice, long nap. Real nice. Real long, too. And then all the sudden, the sun just shines right into your fucking face and all of these people are expecting you to get up and make them happy so they can rip you out of your neck and display your corpse in their homes. The pressure's on. Now you have to GET UP, and just STAND THERE all day! Damn, that'd be lame. So I KNOW why there are pissed flowers in Spring. Now, the song... it was originally the first track on the band's first EP, "Shoot Me I'll Pay You". This version is re-recorded, and I like it a little better. Except for the intro. I thought the intro of the original version sounded better. Y'know, the part where it's just the guitar at the beginning. The vocals sound a little stronger here, but that could always be due to a complete lack of budget in the original version. In the original version Annie sounds like an actual pissed flower in spring (hehe, get it?), but in this version she sounds like some sort of mysterious angel. I also like the little kick of feedback that pops up right before the chorus. It's a pretty happy-sounding song. The riff is sweet-o. And it iz fast.

5. Breakfast Saturday Night
One of the various b-sides to Breed My Dye. Starts with the twangy intro and a soft, calm verse, complemented by a hard, punky chorus. The chorus has sort of this adventurous feel like ya don't exactly know what's gonna happen next. It's a good feeling. Remember what I said last time I reviewed this song about having breakfast on Saturday night? Yeah, I'm gonna ask that question again. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Guess we'll never know... maybe they should solve that problem in the next album or something.

6. Cup of Poison
This one's more mid-tempo like Breakfast Saturday Night and Breed My Dye. The verse vocals have a nice flow to 'em. The solo in the middle is really cool and differs greatly in the different parts of it.

7. Post-Vomit Lines
I'm not even gonna ask what a post-vomit line is. I get an image of little lines of vomit everywhere but then I realize that these lines are POST-vomit! What's a guy to do? The song opens with Annie screaming and a discordant stroke of 'lectric guitar 'cause she's so stoked that she wrote another awesome song. Something like that. Yep, it's another fast thrashy song. It's good. It sounds like it's over for a moment, but then a soft part can be heard. THEN it sounds like it's over. BUT IT IZN'T! The band makes one final return as Annika screams "FUCK YOU" a few times. Fuck who? Fuck me? Geez, I hope I didn't do anything to piss you off THAT much! Nothing that couldn't be solved with some damn LYRICS!!! kjafjsdhfkjsdfshdfhdsgfhdf
8. Dark Milk
Easily my favorite one on the whole album, but there are so other contenders for that sorta thing. Hmm... Anyways, it's one of the slower songs. The verse part is sad and soft, but the chorus is a lot louder. The chorus is my favorite part of the song. I really like the vocals on that part. It's pretty hooky (to me, at least) in that part. The chorus ends with a little "PING" noise that sounds like a hammer hitting a nail really hard or something. There's some silence, and then the next verse begins. Etc. Like the name suggests, it's a very dark track, but it's one of my favorites on the whole album. It just feels good.

9. Bored
Also originally from the first EP and re-recorded. The song's called "Bored", but it's pretty energetic. It's a lot more upbeat compared to "Dark Milk". The drumming is really cool, here. The chorus is sung, "My Enemies Should Stay, I Want My Friends to Get Out". Not sure what it means, but I thought it sounded pretty clever.

10. Bottle of Wine
From the first EP. Slow, calm, but also upbeat in a way. I think it might be about alcoholism, but I'm not entirely sure. The vocals are great. The bass guitar is a nice touch. Just a nice relaxing song, still. Every band needs a few of those.

11. Rad Masturbation
I'm gonna be honest with y'all. I masturbate. A lot. So I think it's pretty cool that they wrote a song about it n' stuff. Before it was on here it was on the Breed My Dye single. Gotta love the little splash of distortion right at the beginning. The chorus reassuringly goes "You Don't Need to Masturbate, I Will Fuck You Anyway" -- I got the lyrics wrong the first time I reviewed this song. It's their shortest song, and appropriately, it iz also fast. I really like this one.

12. Born In My Eyes
The song begins sort of wry -- not quite happy but not quite sad. It sounds neat, though. The vocals are softer and calmer than anything else in this album... like a lullaby. Her voice sounds just as sad and sincere as she did in the original version. Slowly, the drumming and bass is coaxed into the song. Kinda like waking up. My lyrical interpretation: there's a literal fetus getting born in Annie's eyes. Don't ask me how or even why. Well, it all builds up to a heavier, raspier chorus with this sort of pessimistic optimism. Yes, I know, that made absolutely no sense. But is good music necessarily supposed to? I know what I'm saying, anyways. Kind of like "Bottle of Wine", it's one of the more delicate points of the record. Longest song, also.

13. Bohemian Dust Cakes
Some of these song titles are just plain goofy. And I like that. It's one last hardcore song from the album -- but this one has a more distinct noize-punk influence to it. And by that I mean it sounds abrasive and lively. Definitely a cool song. Really like the chorus vocals, once again. The bassline for this is really cool. The song really starts to get fucked up at the end, with an improvised (I think, at least) noize-fest between different strings on the guitar as the bass and drums just keep chuggin' along like it's not even happening. The final seconds of the song just sound like Space Invaders.

14. Rays Light Our Last Day
And one last song... it's easy going and quiet with softer vocals. It's not very long, though. Still, a nice way to end the album. The poetry is good, here. Unfortunately, that's all.

The album really is a beautiful experience. My one gripe is the fact that it does suffer from the whole "loudness war" thing -- it sounded a little too jarring on the first listen. However, I found a way to remedy this. I ran a high-pass filter through all of the songs and they all sounded so much better. It does considerably turn down the bass levels (sorry Michelle), but it DOES restore the dynamics of the sound... I recommend they should be more careful about this next time, though. But with that, the album's sound was then much more listenable and I could truly appreciate the songs for how good they really are. Every song on this album is different. Each one is unique. There are fast, thrashy songs. There are mellow, twangy songs. There are dark, grungy songs. The album seems to be based around depression, loneliness, and trying to find happiness in life. I don't know the lyrics to the songs (as I said too many times before), but the music does speak for itself. It just sounds very different from other things I've heard before. Nirvana IS a strong influence to the band, but the music has a feel of its own. And the people in this band are friendly people. Listening to this one the whole way through, though, I realized this is a better record than I thought. It has its ups and its downs, almost like a person. I dunno, maybe it's just 'cause I was tired when I reviewed this record. I'm just saying that it's an interesting album and I like it. And I'm real excited to hear what they're gonna do next. So... penis.

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