Back before they got it Together, Pangea were a band that balanced their garage impulse with a steadfast understanding of just which sparks of indie and grunge made for explosive rock. Living Dummy was a powder keg of sore-throated rockers and acoustic breakdowns that only became more emboldened as they worked towards their breakthrough. Pangea had a pop sensibility that rang through the grit, and they exploded that on their Lauren Records single and a planned Burger EP that would eventually work as the blueprints for Badillac.
So, as they come out of the shadow of Badillac‘s release it’s interesting as to how a “never the same album twice” aesthetic works in a world of major label subsidiaries. They’ve moved along the EMI foodchain from Harvest to Nettwerk. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a move up or down in the eyes of the number crunchers. Though, I can say that those trying to sell T-Pang’s jittery punk to press as something that “became a plot point in a bonkers episode of NCIS” might be barking up the wrong tree. There’s no such thing as bad sync these days and the very notion of “selling out” checked its head a long time ago, but last I took a look the median age of viewership on that show was 60, with an extraordinary willingness to believe a woman in her forties is still sporting Hot Topic goth pigtails. There’s still a lot to love here, but I’d worried that a band I have affection for had been needled by those who’d sell them as “edgy” to Nanas running Nielson boxes.
Now let’s dispense with my personal feelings on the upper echelon of labels these days. Bulls and Roosters does inherently update Together Pangea’s sound in ways that pushes them forward. Though I admit I miss a good run of lozenge-ready vocal cracks from William Keegan, the album matures their acoustic vs. ecstatic palette into something that absorbs pop impulses with an eager readiness and even incorporates some sunset slide work into the mix. They aren’t the young punks that began fraying the wires almost a decade ago, but neither are we, the listener.
This set acts as some of their strongest songwriting and tracks like “The Cold” and “Stare At The Sun” buzz with a sheen that befits their years working the stage, while using the studio as a lab. Even if the note makers are ostensibly waiting off mic on this one, T-Pang retain their essence while making this a record that’s easy to digest. Sure, part of me wants them to just melt some paint of the walls, but in holding back, the band has proven they can’t be pigeon-holed either.
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