Songwriting and storytelling more often than not go hand in hand.
There is structure, rhyme and reason behind every choice when you listen to a piece of music or read a story. When the music begins to focus more on the story there needs to be a compelling and driving force that makes it worth the attention. Pandas & People have found a way to make it not only enjoyable but compelling with their latest release, “Out to Sea.”
Fort Collins, Colorado-based band Pandas & People have always been more of a standout artist. Blending elements of indie, folk and rock, the group has managed to put their own unique sound even on their first single, “On My Way,” back in 2013. From deep-layered hooks to catchy and rhythmic tunes, Pandas & People have always had a ability to create a seamless blend of styles into each of their tracks. The group has grown much larger than founding member Joshua Scheer, picking up members such as Conrad Marshall, Tucker Ewing, Michael Kinney and Dave Brown. The last four years the group has been refining and redefining their sound along the way and have focused more on the narrative side of folk music with telling a story with each track. “Out to Sea” is a story the band has been trying to tell for a while now and you can find that with each track.
“Out to Sea” is a seven-track record that clocks in at around 25 minutes in length. From the get go, “Out to Sea” starts with a much more pop-styled folk song before diving into a deeper and more compelling tracks hidden away. Harmonies and mixing stand out and it is hard to not move along to some rhythms on a few of the tracks. Melodies are catchy and the lyrics feel real when you listen to them. “Out to Sea” is not a thematic album, but more a collection of individual stories that are strong on their own, but together leave the album more emotional.
Musically, “Out to Sea” is diverse in that not each track sounds the same. When you listen to something like “Find You” or “Breathing Room,” you can almost hear the immense of shift in the style. “Find You” relies on not a lot of progression but has a rhythm that is hard not to move along to. “Breathing Room” is a track that builds up to dance like pace, but in a much more fluid pace than the lead track. Tracks like “Watch It Burn” and “Hands in Mine” are built from a slower rhythm and melody and use a lot more percussion to drive that force throughout the tracks. There are a few memorable guitar riffs hidden throughout that keep your attention and have you back time and time again, but they are not nearly as fun as some of Mandolin elements like on tracks “Watch It Burn.”
Lyrically, we hear just how comfortable that Pandas & People have become in recent years with “Out to Sea.” There are tracks about hometown loves, and moving on, and in a lot of ways this is some of Pandas & People’s most challenging and in-depth work to date. Tracks like “Find You” focuses on more of the pop side of songwriting, but still manages to tackle a relationship without sounding cliché or overwritten. The chorus on “Find You” is simple and catchy enough that you will have a hard time not singing along. As the record goes on, the tracks get a bit more complex in with the lyrics. Tracks like “Bourbon” and “Out to Sea” have these juxtaposed positions on the album, where the latter tells a much more cheerful story on life and the former is a much somber and deeper reflection on it. Some tracks connect with you almost instantaneously, while others may take a second listen before you start to feel something. There is a lot on “Out to Sea” that keeps bringing listeners back, and each individual story on each track is one of those things.
Should you listen to it? Absolutely!
What Pandas & People have managed to create is an emotionally charged album with “Out to Sea.” Every aspect from mixing, to vocals and style work together in a seamless effort. Pandas & People produced a fun record that is perfect for an evening with some friends or a long drive. Needless to say, there is something for everyone when they listen to “Out to Sea.”
The band has won “Best Folk Band in Colorado” and “Best Americana Act” by Westword Magazine.
“Out to Sea” has been in production for three years.
The group has opened for acts like Judah & The Lion and Twenty One Pilots.
Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @CTV_Ace.