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"Lucky Shiner"

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner
04 October 2010, 10:00 Written by Matthew Britton

It seems churlish to make predictions for an entire year in an industry where a week can feel like a decade. With her second single dropped due to ‘lack of radio support’ and her debut album put on indefinite hold, 2010 certainly isn’t going to be remembered as the year of Daisy Dares You. Nor is it going to be the names of Rox or Stornoway who are forever entwined as the soundtrack to these 12 months, as BBC’s Sounds of 2010 poll suggested it may have been at the tail end of last year. In amongst those and the now more recognised names of Ellie Goulding, Delphic and The Drums was a man called Derwin, who records under the name Gold Panda. Whilst many might’ve jumped at the increased recognition that comes with placing on such a well-recognised survey with its panel of industry experts, time has been taken over the release of a debut album. And now, as the winds blow harder and the weather cools, the record finally ready – and god, has it been worth the wait.

The whole lonely bedroom producer thing has definitely taken hold this year, but this is an album worlds away from the platitudes of chillwave. There’s something markedly different about the way that Lucky Shiner holds itself, the manner and execution of its 11 tracks – opening with single ‘You’, this genuinely feels like a journey through aesthetic and sound, whilst remaining familiar throughout.

There are works of indescribable beauty and majesty – the twinkling mid album double of ‘Same Dream China’ and ‘Snow & Taxis’ mainly – alongside experimental works of genius and tracks with more conventional charm. Indeed, there are few acts around that would dare putting the haphazard percussion and daring beats of ‘I’m With You But I’m Lonely’ with the warm, sepia tinged acoustic guitar of ‘Parents’ under the same moniker, never mind on the same album. But perhaps that’s where the enjoyment comes from – both sonically and in terms of ideas, this is an album bubbling with ideas and seems to struggle with the prospect of holding them in.

In another, darker, era this is the kind of stuff that could’ve been labelled as intelligent dance music – which is probably only as bad as the glo-fi moniker that has been attached to it today. But this is a confident web of sound that retains a remarkable depth, with reward gained from the new layers that repeat listens reveal. There are, of course, problems that go with making such a record. Whilst their insipid fellow Sounds of 2010 alumni Hurts have managed to earn themselves a name with their dull rehashing of the worst aspects of 80’s electro-pop, it’s unlikely the name of Gold Panda will reach those less than dizzying heights of recognition. Whilst the tracks, shimmering with 8-bit, dance and even drone influences, are invariably excellent, there’s little in the way of singles, other than the previously released party-starter ‘You’. But in the grand scheme of things one of the most talented cult artists in the country with an album that shows it is probably a fair trade off for not being spoonfed to Radio 1’s audience – both scenarios of which Daisy Dares You can only dream of.


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